It is inevitable that during your some 40 years of working life that you will encounter a teammate or co-worker whom you just don’t get along with. Engaging with different types of personalities and working styles will undoubtedly present to you with a relational challenge or two. Learning how to work through these situations and how to develop strategies to deal with difficult co-workers is an essential skill-set for success in the workplace. Here are some tactics to consider:
Pick your battles.
When dealing with a difficult coworker, it can be easy to get upset with every interaction no matter the topic of conversation. Pick your battles; choose wisely when it comes to which circumstances deserve your energy, and then stand your ground when the time is right. Take the higher road when dealing with a toxic individual, and maintain respect for them. By keeping the situation civil, you might be able to open doors for positive relationship building down the road. If the situation calls for engagement, try handling it in a solutions-oriented way. Responding with, “I can understand your frustrations, what are you going to do to help fix the situation/problem?” could be an easy way to stay focused in the discussion and give any conversation a tone of calm rationalism.
Take a step back.
You might be surprised by how much your own emotions play a role in your work interactions, especially those that are intense or stressful. Consider your emotions and try to be self-aware concerning your feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Slow things down and give yourself the chance to look at the whole picture. Doing this can allow you to make an intentional decision about how to handle the situation, versus one that is just emotional. Make sure that you look at the situation from more than one perspective. Listen fully to the other party and reflect before making a decision on how to respond or act.
This can be difficult for many people, but it is a great life lesson in general. By understanding what is important to you in order to be a happy and productive team member, you can then tell others what works for you. It is also helpful to know how to shut down negative or non-productive conversations, particularly with negative coworkers. It can be easy to want to lend an understanding ear to a particularly negative coworker who complains a lot, however, getting caught up in constant negativity can result in affecting your own viewpoint daily and overall happiness.
Minimize the interaction.
If all else fails, keeping a cool, distant, and professional relationship may be the answer. If it isn’t necessary to interact with them every day, then avoid high amounts of interaction altogether. If you must interact with them, keep it brief and professional and move along with your day.
Heed the Importance of self-care.
This may seem cliché, but making sure that you take great care of yourself first will make coming to work easier. It will also make dealing with difficult situations with grace more achievable. Be sure to get a full night’s rest, eat healthy meals, and get moving! Take your lunches and breaks, go on walks, and make sure you do your best to give yourself space and time to feel your best. This will enable you to take a deep breath, make the best choices possible, laugh, and move on through your day no matter what is thrown your way.
Dealing with difficult people, especially in a work setting, can be a challenge. It takes the right tools, intentions, and attitudes to make your work experience better and keep you moving forward in a positive direction!