Working With Difficult Co-workers
Learning to Work With Difficult Co-Workers
Some people are just hard to work with. No matter what you do or say, they seem to argue with you, ignore you, or in some other way cause trouble for you. I call them difficult co-workers.
While it can be really frustrating to work with difficult co-workers, there is hope. Using assertive communication skills to handle the inevitable confrontations you will have with them, you can often resolve conflicts and find a way to work together.
You may never learn to like each other, but you can learn to work with difficult co-workers.
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Probably the hardest part of working with a difficult co-worker.
I have had my share of difficult co-workers. I have had the person who whines all day about how bad their life is and how bad the company treats them. I have worked with the person on the verge of retirement that simultaneously avoids work and complains about being overworked. I have worked along side people who had body odor, bad breath, loud voices, argumentative spirits, angry outbursts, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. And the hardest lesson I have learned is this: I have to control me so that they don't.
I'll offer specific suggestions for working with difficult people in another part of this page. For now, I want to make this one point very clear. I don't like the lesson. It puts much of the burden on me. You may not like it either. I definitely understand. However, whether you or I like it or not does not seem to change its value.
When you lose it in a conversation, gossip about them, argue with them, ignore them, or criticize them; you supply the ammunition they use against you. Your behavior helps them to justify any bad behavior they might take towards you.
Step one - practice self-control.
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Video on the Power of Controlling Your Emotions
Reminder: Control Your Response
You are the only person that you can control. No matter what they do, control your response. Self-control will give you greater influence with them.
Ideas To Keep In Mind As You Work With Difficult Co-workers - Not a step-by-step guide. Just some guiding thoughts.
- They don't usually have any direct control over you. Don't give it to them. Control your response so that you don't encourage their negative behaviors by giving them any ammunition to use against you or to justify their bad behaviors.
- Treat them with unconditional respect no matter what they do. Sarcasm, verbal attacks, and gossip will seldom help the situation.
- Protect your interests without violating theirs. Assertively confront their bad behaviors.
- Be prepared to listen to them. They may have a perspective or outlook that you have not considered. As Patrick Lencioni says, "people don't have a need to get their way as much as they have a need to be heard and understood." When you listen to them, they just may cease to be a difficult person.
- Focus most of your energy on clear communication skills. Many difficulties with other people stem from misunderstanding. Your effort to understand their perspective and to clearly state yours does not guarantee that they will cease being "difficult." Your efforts in this area will improve the odds of resolving your differences.
Where To Get Further Insights
- Executive Leadership Coaching
Articles, tips, and insights to help business leaders and business owners grow their teams and get results.
- Principle Driven Consulting
This is my main website.
- Resolving Conflict in Teams Blog
My blog on this topic.
- Co-Worker From Hell? 5 Ways to Deal
How YOU deal with a difficult co-worker can make all the difference in the world. You'd be surprised how much you can do to change a difficult co-worker.
- The Impossible Colleague - Tips For Dealing With Difficult Coworkers
Got a co-worker who is difficult, impossible or hard to get along with? You have to read these tips and reduce stress.
- Dealing with difficult co-workers
When it comes to dealing with difficult co-workers, however, HR managers may struggle with when and how to intervene. They don't want to over-react every ...
- Ten Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coworkers | Labor & Employment ...
A good list of things to think about as you work with difficult co-workers.
- We Have to Talk: A Step-By-Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations
What you have here is a brief synopsis of best practice strategies: a checklist of action items to think about before going into the conversation.
- Leadership and Management Success Tips: Communication Success Tips ...
You can become effective at holding difficult conversations. Practice and these steps will help build your comfort level to hold difficult conversations.
- Free DISC Profile
Insights to understand yourself so that you can control your response more effectively.
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