Friday, July 30, 2010

Dealing with a Difficult Co-worker

At any company, you may find employees who are difficult. How difficult? This can range from excessive talking, to annoying habits, to someone who deliberately undermines your professional efforts. Any co-worker issue that impacts your ability to do your job is one that needs to be addressed. Following are some tips for achieving a productive and positive working relationship with another employee:

  • Evaluate whether you are contributing to the problem. Ask yourself these pointed questions: Do you have a history of past conflict with co-workers? Are you open-minded and accepting of others’ work styles and ideas? Are you misinterpreting your co-worker’s words, actions, or intentions?
  • Address the issue directly and in private. Engage your co-worker in a private conversation, preferably in a setting away from others. Explain your feelings by using “I” instead of “you,” so your co-worker doesn’t feel accused or attacked. Use concrete examples when possible.
  • Present and welcome suggestions. Be prepared to suggest how you both might work together to create a more positive and mutually respectful professional relationship. Likewise, be open to your co-worker’s suggestions.
  • Maintain open communication. Touch base a week or two after the initial conversation to determine if there have been any improvements in your working relationship. Again, be sure it’s a two-way communication. Encourage ongoing communication.
  • Be patient. Changing behavior and building a cooperative working relationship can take time. Allow both of you ample time to adjust. Look for even the smallest signs that your relationship is moving in the right direction.
  • Engage your manager, if necessary. If you’ve tried positive strategies and given them ample time to work, yet still see no progress, it is time to engage your manager. Focus on how the relationship with your co-worker has become a roadblock to the work you do and provide specific examples. Most managers will be supportive and work with you, helping you to resolve the issue.

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