Consider These Tips When Dealing With a Difficult CoWorker

John Krautzel
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While you may prefer tackling tasks on your own, the time always comes when you need to take on a project as a group. When diverse personalities, varying work styles and contrasting opinions are thrown into the mix, tension can result. When you find yourself working with a team, consider these six tips for dealing with difficult coworkers to ensure peaceful collaboration.

1. Don't Expect to Befriend Everyone

It's nice to form personal connections with colleagues when you have interests in common, but this can't be the case with every person you encounter in the workplace. At least attempt to maintain a professional working relationship with others, including difficult coworkers. You don't have to discuss your vacation plans or after-hours activities with every staffer, or even like them for that matter, but attempt to maintain a positive attitude when conversing about work-related topics.

2. Assess Your Own Feelings

If you're experiencing a personality clash with a colleague, step back and evaluate yourself. Are you taking offense to something that's just minor? Was there an innocent miscommunication between you and your colleague? Take time to review the situation, and make sure you're not the one who's being difficult or unreasonable before making your next move.

3. Approach the Issue Proactively

When the other person really is the issue, opt for a proactive approach to the situation rather than reactive behavior. Take a deep breath, stay calm and maintain your professional demeanor. Even if you disagree with your difficult coworker, listen to his perspective. Try to reach a compromise that satisfies all parties involved.

4. Have a Discussion

If arguments continue to arise with the same difficult coworker, set aside time to have a discussion. Have a face-to-face meeting instead of communicating electronically. Make sure the conversation is private and doesn't take place in the midst of a group meeting. Try to find a common ground so you both can enjoy a more harmonious work environment.

5. Make a Change

When all else fails, try to avoid interacting with the difficult coworker. If you're on a project team, choose a different task force to limit the amount of interaction you have with the colleague. Keep communications brief and professional when they're necessary.

6. Enlist a Supervisor

As a last resort, you may need to escalate the issues you're facing with a difficult coworker to your supervisor. A senior manager or human resources representative may be better equipped to help you handle the problematic person, either through mediation or some other method.

It's often said that teamwork makes the dream work, but some collaborative efforts among colleagues can turn into a nightmare. If you're faced with a difficult coworker, try these six tips to handle the situation like a pro. What strategies do you employ when dealing with problematic partners?

Photo courtesy of reobuyer at


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