Handling Difficult Co-workers with Ease

A bad coworker can make your 9-5 a nightmare.

There seems to be at least one in every office place.

It’s the person who you can bet will be the voice of dissenting opinion or the rain for your parade.

There are some simple strategies to deal with these difficult coworkers.

  1. Take the emotion out of it.

    Usually difficult people are emotionally charged; their high-energy communication patterns are part of what makes it difficult to reason with them.
    They always seem to be “turned up” whether in volume or temper.
    The best way to handle this type of a difficult coworker is to turn down the volume by not offering a response that mirrors the high energy of their communication or temperament.
    Take deep breaths,
    Slow your pace of speech, and even find a way to be honest and say that you need a minute.

  2. Set your own boundaries.

    You have a right to have boundaries just like anyone else does.
    Only you can set and maintain your own boundaries.
    Here is a link to a free masterclass GILD is offering on this topic – and we also have a complete course dealing specifically with time management and boundaries.
    Finding your voice in communicating your boundaries may be the most difficult part of this one – especially if you are an introvert or not a Type A personality.
    That’s where a coach or a mentor (not a buddy or a peer) should be enlisted to help you develop the right communication plan.

  3. Rehearse your statements.

    After developing your communication plan, you need to make sure it will roll off your tongue with ease.
    Practice makes perfect.
    That coach or mentor you sought out to help you develop this plan can role play with you so you’re not stuck practicing in front of the mirror while feeling foolish or second-guessing your tonality and cadence.

  4. Always be friendly, courteous, and professional.

    Treating this person or any person with unkindness is never a viable option.
    Always be friendly and courteous while keeping your professional decorum.
    A recent client who I helped through a work transition from one company where she was unhappy to another where she is soaring like an eagle had an issue with a coworker at her new digs.
    The coworker did not have poor intentions but did introduce negativity and stress to the environment.
    My client and I worked on her boundaries & communication plan, role-played it together and practiced her own boundary techniques for ensuring she didn’t snap back or step out of her professional persona during their interactions.
    After responding to negativity with positivity over some time the negative person will either stop or move on.
    This reminds me of an old saying: “You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.”
    Be sweet. (I so wanted to type “bee sweet” but thought that would be too cheesy.)

  5. Limit your exposure.

    If a co-worker’s actions are becoming out of hand, limit the time you are with them.
    It’s fairly easy to figure out this person’s patterns.
    If you both end up at the coffee machine at 10:35 three days a week, change your coffee schedule or take up water or a walk instead.
    It is possible to schedule yourself out of that person’s availability.
    If you don’t know where to start, click here for a consult so I can share with you how to make this happen.
    It’s not as hard as you may think – and believe me… I’ve worked with some tough characters within an office place with no HR support and managers who looked the other way.
    I’ve been in one of the worst situations you can imagine and employed this tactic.
    It always works.

  6. Get help.

    Journal your experiences along the way.
    By writing down your experiences along the way then you’ll be able to illustrate your journey and have a testimony to the tactics you have employed.
    These tips escalate as you go – so if you get to #5 and you’re still having issues then you have two choices: get help from HR or a boss, or find a new job.
    I highly recommend seeking help before alternate employment.
    If the situation is bad enough for you to consider finding a new job, then it at least deserves your seeking out an internal solution while you’re job hunting.

If you feel physically threatened by a co-worker, you should jump to step #6.

These steps are to be followed in order for annoying, distracting, or otherwise unsavory relationships – if your safety is being called into question, all bets are off and you need to go straight to someone else for help.

Do not try to handle it yourself.

This is the type of thing GILD helps its clients through every day.

If you’d like to explore what your options are or discuss tactics, we’d love to speak with you. Click here for a complimentary consultation, and send this blog to someone else who may need it!

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