Thursday, June 2, 2011

Five Ways to Deal with Difficult Co-workers

If you are a full-time employee, you see some of your co-workers more than you see your best friend or spouse. When you put so many different personalities together, it is inevitable that there will be some people that do not get along. There are many different reasons; they may be a bully, a negative person, or a gossip. No matter the situation you face, how you handle it can impact your work environment and ultimately your work satisfaction.

Have a plan and be prepared
If you have to deal regularly with an argumentative or negative person, be proactive. When faced with a situation for which we are unprepared, we are likely to act on instincts and strike back or become angry. Don’t react to conflict emotionally, be professional and non-confrontational.

When you decide to confront the problem, talk through the issue with the person in terms of facts, not feelings. Clearly define the issue and your desired outcome and write it down so you stay on track during the discussion.

Don’t be a part of the problem
When we are attacked, our instinct is to protect ourselves. However, hostile people who are confrontational often thrive on controversy and tension. Don’t play their game and fuel their fire. You need to be the more mature and professional person. If you react only with kindness and positive comments, they will tend to leave you alone to work in peace.

Identify people who tend to create problems and try to steer clear of them. Ensure your interaction with these people stays professional and focused solely on the work environment. Do not engage in negative banter, gossip, or criticism of the boss – no matter what kind of day you may be having.

Try to see their point of view
Sometimes you need to ask yourself, is there a reason this person is being so difficult or has a bad attitude? Maybe they are having marital, money, or health problems. Although these issues don’t excuse a bad attitude, they may explain it.

It is possible they are not aware of how they are perceived or that they come across negatively. Talk with them and show them kindness and understanding. Attempt to see things from their point of view and you may be able to solve the problem for yourself and for them.

Know when to seek support
If you have tried all the suggestions with no success, you may need to involve a neutral third party. This person will serve as a mediator who will listen to both sides of the story and help find a middle ground. Go into this conversation with an open mind and try your best to work as a team. Never have a discussion with a difficult co-worker in front of other workers, always have the discussion behind closed doors. If this does not work, it may be time to get your supervisor involved.

Know when to say when
We are bound to have occasional disagreements when interacting with people every day. If the problem can not be resolved, you have a decision to make. If your productivity and work performance is negatively affected, either you or your co-worker needs to move on to a new department or find a new job.

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