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How to Deal with Difficult Colleagues

Updated on March 22, 2014

In every aspect of life, we will come across different types of difficult people. We can never get rid of them nor can we escape from them. We will have to accept the reality we will come across them or live with them, interact and work together with them.

There is the need to learn to understand why they behave the way they behave, and the best approaches or healthy ways to deal with them.

Difficult people don’t know their behavior is wrong. Even though they may be told their behavior does hurt or put off people close to them or those they encouter, some might change in the long-run while others will be stiff-necked to accept the fact.

Therefore, it is up to us to try to learn the reasons why they behave in such ways, and then find the appropriate or right steps to take when dealing with them especially at the workplace.

This goes without saying, you cannot quit your current job even if it is a dream career job because someone is contributing to working at the workplace difficult. This needs not be the case. You have to learn how to deal with them at the workplace.

The workplace should not be a place of heated arguments, 'throwing' words at each other. Yo
u are supposed to enjoy what you are doing - deriving satisfaction from the job.

It is a fact that difficult people at workplace make it hard to work in peace. This implies working with them will lead to unnecessary stresses that can be avoided. Waking up in the morning with the knowledge you are going to face or work with a difficult colleague is not a comforting feeling. By the time you have met them, you have already known your day has been ruined.

Difficult people tire someone than necessary – physically and mentally. They make it hard to concentrate and the last thing you would wish for is to quit your current job.

So, how can you go about dealing with difficult colleagues at the workplace or when working together? Here are some tips that may help you deal with a difficult colleague at the workplace.


Be Patient, Listen

It is very hard for difficult people to know their behavior is not good. It is negative. It is as if the behavior is positive. It has become a part of them; they don’t know whether it is bad.

Do not jump to defend or have your say. Listen to what the difficult colleague is saying. Let her rave and rant. Don’t retort, causing arguments to erupt. In the end, you will not understand each other, and working onwards will be difficult. It is good to listen and hear what she has to say. Then, you will be in a position to state your case in a calmer posture and in a controlled tone or voice. Also, you will know by listening to her whether it is justifiable to answer or ignore what she is saying.

Show kindness

It is a fact of life that nobody can ever pull down a kind person however hard he/she tries. This is especially true when it comes to words spoken in kindness.

If you always reply in kindness, respond in kindness, in the end the difficult colleague will leave you alone knowing what she will expect from you. This is brought out clearly in the article ’10 Ways to Deal With Difficult Employees (Short of Murder).’ “…Despite these negative personality traits, try to be kind and polite in all encounters with difficult employees, especially if they rank higher than you in the company hierarchy. You can even make it a game with yourself, to see how helpful and nice you can, despite their hostile face. Eventually, their grumpy façade may lighten up, when they find your consistently pleasant encounter.”

 office furniture colleagues staff sit meeting
office furniture colleagues staff sit meeting | Source

Avoid them

Avoid the difficult colleagues when necessary. It is best during breaks to avoid them as much as possible. During these times, a lot can be said that may lead to arguments, and who knows, insults and fights may result. During break or lunch time you can keep yourself busy reading a novel or newspaper, listening to music on your iPod or cell phone with earphones on.

Remember, an idle mind is a workshop for the Devil. Avoid it as much as possible. This will help greatly in avoiding frictions taking place.

Face them

When you find it appropriate, face the person and in a tone that is under control and in a calmer posture, tell her you don’t feel good when they are controlling you like a pre-school child.

During this time you should ensure you are calm that is, your posture, face and voice.

Tell the person you don’t want to hear anymore of her gossips or rumors and lies which are untrue. Let her know you know she usually talks behind your back spreading rumors which are untrue. Even if they are, she should not expose it to the world.

Tell her you are finding it hard to fully concentrate in your work when now and then they’re intruding. It is wise to let her know how you are affected by her behavior. However, be careful to say it in such a way it will not stir arguments, insults leading to fight.

Never be intimidated

Among difficult people you will not miss bullies and controlling colleagues.

Do not let a difficult colleague who is a bully intimidate and control you to such a state you follow what she says or agree to whatever she says. Stand firm and show her you are not afraid and you won't stand her bullying behavior.

Ignore them

Difficult people are experts in talking behind ones back. They are good in passing false rumors.They are colleagues or people in high position who find fault with a particular individual. They never say anything good about the person.

When you are congratulated and appreciated by your superior, she diminishes you. Ignore what
she says. You can listen but don’t respond. Stare at the difficult colleague, probably your mind is far away. In any case, if you respond by justifying what she is saying is not true; you are not doing yourself a favor. You will only stir arguments. And, you will return home from work an angry person.

Lastly, don’t vent your anger. Don’t hold grudge. Don’t revenge. It will only make things worse. Always try to be calm. Even if the colleague said something hurtful, don’t let anger take control. Worse things are bound to happen which will make you regret later. Revenge is never the best option. Letting go off is the best option.


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