Tuesday, October 25, 2011

5 Strategies for Dealing with a Difficult Coworker

Often times, we spend more of our time at work than home with our family members. You can’t always choose your co-workers, any more than you get to choose your family and you certainly can’t always get along with everyone.

Whether you find yourself working with a bully, a negative person, an outright liar, or a gossip, if you want to protect your work environment you can follow these steps to resolve the situation.

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. Walk away from the conflict when you are both angry. When everyone calms down, talk through the issue in a carefully planned, well-though manner.

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.

Try to see their point of view
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.

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. 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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