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In this post, I am going to tell you how to deal with a difficult coworker. On top of being a mental health professional, I have also had my share of having to work with difficult people. In fact, I have an entire dedication video down below so you can see that I get your pain. And now I am happy to say that I have mastered the art and feel that it is my duty to share how to do so with you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Working with difficult people is hard, so hard that you do not want to come to work or even make you want to quit your job. BUT before you miss time off from work and start job hunting I want you to understand that difficult co-workers can be conquered and that is what I am going to teach you in this post.
1. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ The Characteristics Of A Difficult Coworker
- Jealous, insecure, lazy, aggressive, or even passive-aggressive.
- Has poor work ethic so much so that you have to come behind their work, do it, therefore making more work on you.
- Is combative and/or disrespectful toward you.
- Talking behind your back.
- Trying to get you fired.
- Lying about you to other people.
- Telling you off.
- Being rude to you including backhanded compliments.
- Overly micromanaging
Your difficult coworker and in some situations supervisors can have all of these characteristics or some of these characteristics. Either way, I am going to tell you how to deal with them in a way that you still shine AND maintain your professionalism.
2. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ You Can’t Change Them But You Can Change You
One of the best ways that you can learn how to deal with difficult coworkers is to realize that you cannot control them. No matter how crazy. Unfortunately, crazy people have sent their resumes out to our companies and started masquerading around us sane people on the job. As a result, they make our lives a living hell. Since we have to come to work, we have to learn to deal with them.
Accept that the person is difficult. Accept that their craziness has really has nothing to do with you. It is a result of their own insecurities, something bad that may have happened in their childhood, or something that has gone on in their personal life, a past job, it is just who they are, and who cares. It is so important to see and accept people for who they really are so that way you know how to deal with them. Being in denial about someone being a difficult co-worker will not do you any favors.
Trying to change them as a person will not do you any favors. The only thing that it is going to cause is more resistance. Accept that they are there, accept that they are crazy, accept that the only person that you can change is yourself, and therefore you can understand how you can tailor your behavior to deal with them.
3. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ Remember To OVERDO Your Job
How to deal with a difficult coworker always remember with crazy people at work, they are always looking for a way to undermine you and make you look like a bad employee. One of the best ways on how to deal with difficult coworkers is to not give them a reason. Now let me explain to you what I mean. Difficult coworkers, are always looking to tell on you or always waiting for you to mess up. The best way to prevent that is to be a good employee.
AND I mean do your job to the TEE. Do not give the difficult employee a reason to say something to you about your job performance. Do not give the difficult employee the opportunity to tell your boss about what you are not doing. This means do your job, meet your deadlines, be positive, have a good work ethic, do not take too long on your breaks, know your job well, and follow the policies and procedures to the letter.
Even though the difficult person may still try to paint you into being a bad employee, it is going to be kind of hard for them to do so if you are doing everything that you are supposed to do. Remember, the point is to focus on you and not to give them too much energy or ammunition to come against you. And the times that they do try to come against you, it will be hard because you are doing everything on the job right.
4. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ Do Not Stoop Down To Their Level
When learning how to deal with a difficult coworker, remember it is very important that just because the other person is difficult, that you do not step into their crazy world with them. Because there will be two crazy people in the office over just one. I KNOW, it is tempting to want to get back at someone who has done something to you or to tell them off so that they will leave you alone.
But the moment you do that you are putting yourself in a position to be reported to HR for unprofessional behavior even if the difficult co-worker was the one who started it. Therefore, when working with difficult people you need to always maintain your composure. Never raise your voice, name call, or repay evil for evil.
Because if you do it will only look bad on you and before you know it you will be the difficult person on the job that other people are figuring out how to work with. Most difficult people want to argue with you. They want to prove their point and want you to see things their way, even if they are wrong.
Do not go back and forth with them. The argument can go on for an eternity. Instead, state your point once, give an explanation and walk away leave them arguing with themselves. Also, check out my blog on how to assertively communicate on the job. I also have a video on how to deal with difficult coworkers that will tell you exactly how to behave toward such people.
5. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker, Pretend that they do not exist in your world
I have had plenty of crazy supervisors and coworkers. And I chose to ignore them. The fact of the matter is that when working with difficult people they want to know that they have somehow gotten to you. But do not give them the privilege of thinking that. Choose to take all of their power away by choosing not to even acknowledge that they exist. Do not be rude. Meaning that you can come in say hello, but just leave it at that.
But if you do not have to be around them, then don’t. If they say something crazy to you then ignore it and pretend as if they did not even say anything to you, like you do not even see or hear them. Avoid interacting with them at work if you have to and when you do be sure to only interact with them in an extremely professional way with a smile on your face as if what they said did not even affect you or you did not even realize that they were being rude.
6. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ Document Everything
Since a difficult co-worker or supervisor, the sole purpose is to jack up your day or to get you in trouble. Always follow up on important conversations in emails. This way they cannot come back and twist your words around, say that you said one thing when they didn’t, or say that they told you something when they didn’t.
You will have proof in writing what you talked about in case they try to use a conversation against you. I cannot tell you how many times having things in writing saved my life. And never delete the emails, keep them for months and years to come.
7. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ Outwit & Outlast
Yes, you need to outsmart your difficult co-worker. Whatever plans they have to sabotage you, you need to cover your basis and be one step ahead of them. However, they talk to you, you need to be overly articulate and overly professional and communicate your point right back to them. Whenever I am dealing with a difficult co-worker and they try to say something bad about me or how I am performing I always have an answer and my answer is always backed up by policy.
I never give them a chance to make me look bad because I am always one step ahead. If they want to communicate an issue to the supervisor about me, I have already gone to the supervisor first and given the story so by the time the difficult co-worker comes to my boss their words or ineffective. If the difficult co-worker wants to talk trash about me to other co-workers I am the first to know. Because I have already made friends with every other co-worker and have the inside track.
They are always telling me what is going on, always telling me what the difficult co-worker is planning, and I can always be steps ahead of the difficult co-worker so that I always look good and whatever plans they have against me does not work out. It does take some skill to master this, but really you want to outwit them. That way any efforts that they make against you will not work.
8. How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker Remember You Have Rights
There are sometimes which the coworkers are so difficult that you just have to go to HR or higher. There was a time that I was being severely sexually harassed in the workplace. The man would grab my butt, come up behind me and try to massage my breast (YES THIS REALLY HAPPENED), and even tried to follow me in the bathroom to try to have sex with me. THAT HAPPENED TOO. At this point, I needed to tell. It was a long investigative process but as least I was not being molested at work.
How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker ~ In case none of these things work with your workplace crazy person you can always:
- Speak to the person directly about their behavior. But please note that with difficult people, they will rarely see what they are doing wrong. And you talking to one another may result in an argument. If this occurs, then refer back to step 5 and step 6. To protect yourself you can try to have a witness present like another trusted coworker or supervisor. And always follow up on what was said in writing just in case they try to twist what was said to them.
- Talk to your supervisor or HR person or depending on your situation you may have to file a formal grievance through your agency or complaint through the ethics line. As in my sexual harassment situation that required a lot of intervention.
- If you are in the United State there is a program ( http://www.whistleblowers.gov) that can protect you, especially against a supervisor. If someone is making threats toward you or behaving unethically toward you at the workplace, you can file a complaint. Know that when you file a complaint, you are protected. Meaning that you cannot get fired or retaliated against for filing a complaint.
These are my 7 tips on what you are can do when you are faced with working with difficult people and how to work with difficult coworkers. If you know someone that is in a toxic work environment then please share this post with them.