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How to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers?

Pauline Le Guilloux

In any workplace, there is at least one person with whom you do not really get along. Given how much time you spend at work, having a bad relationship with a co-worker can really affect your mood and your job performance. The environment, including the people with whom you work, often makes a big difference in how you see your job. Thus, it is really important to know how to deal with difficult co-workers.

Accept different personalities

Different personalities lead to varying work styles, which can easily lead to conflicts. A conflict may start with a benign situation when you would like to have a quiet lunch break, while your co-workers would like to have a small talk. These types of things are mere differences in how you work or socialize and do not necessarily make your co-workersbad”. In this case, try to identify the different personality types to avoid conflict and to get along with each one’s character.

Take culture into consideration

In addition to understanding your co-workers varying personalities, it is also important to know the culture of the staff. Given that each country has its own culture, each worker have a different way of behaving depending on their home country. For instance, there might be some cases in which your co-worker is always late to your meetings while you always arrive earlier. Actually, each culture has its pros and cons, so try not to judge other people too quickly. In this way, think about your own culture. Be aware of your own behaviour and you might realize that you can be as rude with other people as they are with you. Do not forget to be objective!

Be kind

If someone says something that might offends you, try to be extra pleasant. Your kindness may very well make them aware of their own behaviour.

An alternative is to find the one thing you like about this co-worker and focus on it rather than the traits you find annoying . Find ways to focus your conversation on these topics, and perhaps what you disliked about that person will not appear as important as they used to.

If, after a couple of weeks, nothing has changed, you can still try some avoidance techniques.

  • Move desks: If one of your co-workers is annoying you with their music, their smell, their constant chat, etc., ask permission to your supervisor to switch desks. You can simply tell that it is too loud/hot/distracting in your general area. But if the supervisor wants further explication, simply state that there are some conflicts between you and a co-worker that affect your productivity.
  • Rearrange your schedule: Maybe you can shift your entire workday by an hour or two, or eat your lunch at a park or by yourself at a café. Thanks to these special times, your co-workers will not get on your nerves all day long.

Resolve the conflict

If your conflict with a co-worker is rather personal than related to your job, you may need to approach them directly. If they are doing inappropriate jokes, tell them that it makes you uncomfortable and you would rather they kept it for their home. In most cases, people will respect your direct approach.

If the bad co-worker is annoying you because of something that is related to the work rather than personal, it can be a different situation which may require going to your supervisor first.

Dealing with bad co-workers, as dealing with difficult and annoying people in your daily life, is just part of almost any job. You can either complain and let those people ruin your day, or you can step above it and decide of the smooth progress of your day.

Keep calm and carry on!

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