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How to Handle Difficult Colleagues for a Less Stressful Workplace

difficult co-workers

We all have difficulties at times with some colleagues. Some even make your work environment a living hell, but here are some tips on how to handle difficult colleagues in order to have a less stressful workplace.

Related article:   Why Are Work Friends Better?

1. Avoid office baggage

In any environment, especially at your place of work, it is common to find those individuals that carry their emotional baggage with them. It is understandable that you would want to be the humanitarian in the office because you feel bad for your fellow colleague, but these types of co-workers use their personal problems as an excuse to neglect their duties or to receive special treatment.

Five words: YOU ARE NOT A THERAPIST. Be direct and let your co-worker know that their behaviour is affecting their and your work. You can also just simply go to your boss; in the end it’s his or her job to handle non -performing staff.


2. Stay clear of the “Office Monsters”.

These are the people in the office that has the nature of walking over their fellow co-workers or forcing their opinion on others. They have a “my-way-or-highway-attitude”. These are usually the people that start office feuds that can evolve into a war.

The best advice is to stay clear of these individuals, the battle will only end badly. When talking to them, skip straight to the point. Say what you need to say and keep your relationship with them strictly professional. Do not give these “war-starters” the slightest chance to break you down.

3. Tackle the bull by the horns

In the case where a co-worker is negatively affecting your work ethics, confrontation is the best option. Private confrontation of course (avoid any open drama). When a co-workers’ behaviour starts spinning out of control they need to be addressed before creating a tornado.

Enlighten your fellow co-worker on how their behaviour is affecting you in a negative way. Keep an “I-approach” so the problem stays between the two of you to avoid further conflict. Try to be as calm and collected as possible. Do not under any circumstance make your co-worker feel victimised because they may not be aware of their behaviour.

4. Give hardworking colleagues credit (even the irritating ones).

Not all work bullies are fruitless workers – some are undeniable assets. For you they may be vicious in their tactics but for the boss they might as well walk on water. It’s better to embrace them for who they are: hard working colleagues that mean a lot to the company. This does not mean that you have to kiss their feet but simply let them be, ignore them if you really can’t stand them.

5. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Boss haters also exist in a workplace and you can already think of a few names that fit the description. They are the colleagues that always have something negative to say about the boss and spend their work day working on new complaints as to why your boss is horrible.

The best advice is to not bad-mouth your seniors. At the end of the day the person in charge writes out your pay check and if you cannot identify with who has highest authority at your company, you might as well rethink your position there.

6. Do some soul searching to see where the problem really lies.

Before taking any action or making drastic decisions you should undergo some self-evaluation. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is there a pattern that repeats itself when you interact with your colleagues?
  • Are you a naturally tense person?

Maybe, just maybe you’re the horrible co-worker for your colleagues! And you should try and solve this. Try and listen to your colleagues when they speak as they might hint as to why you don’t have a good relationship. Be more concerned with other people’s feelings. If you show that you are caring, it will be returned.

Whether you’re being irritated by an employee that simply complains too much or feeds on the opportunity to undermine you, these are some helpful guidelines to handle difficult colleagues. Make stress at work a little a less!

Written by Shannique Hodman

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