How to Work with Difficult Colleagues

Mean Girls Image from Fairfax Media

4  min read

Over the years, we have all experienced our fair share of dealing with difficult colleagues or bosses. Maybe you were lucky enough to find another job or maybe you are still stuck in this situation. Either way, it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make your job more mangable. These tips are reflections of some things I did to ease a situation or wish I did to make one better.

Keep Cool

I’ve always been a firm believer that keeping your cool in difficult or stressful situations is 100 percent the way to go. Not only does not flying off the handle allow you to be more professional but also it gives way for patience. And when you are working with difficult people, you need to exercise a lot of patience. Many problems could be prevented if people used more patience. It is a virtue after all!

The Next Best Thing

Try to understand where the other person is coming from. Does he or she feel ganged up on, belittled, or unheard? Understanding the other person’s point of view helps you think differently and defuse the situation. Also, this might help you change your attitude about the person. You are better equipped to handle anything when you come from a place of understanding.

Don’t Tell All in the Office

This is the hardest but maybe the most crucial thing to learn. Gossiping or letting co-workers know about your issues with another co-worker makes for a contentious situation. First, you are letting negative feelings or ill-will consume you. Secondly, most of the time, your work bff only adds fuels the fire not quells it. Say no to gossip girls, instead go home and talk to a confidant.

You Don’t Have to be a Wordsmith to…

Choose your words wisely. When communicating written or orally with an individual you may not have the best relationship with, really take time to think about the language you use. I assure you, written communication is the number one thing people read into, because they are trying to decipher tone. And if you are used to having problems with an individual, then he or she will be more on guard during your exchanges. Focus on the objective and approach him or her in a professional manner. Consider being more thoughtful with your words, it will only make you better.

Be Like Elsa and Let It Go

And if it doesn’t kill you, which I’m sure it won’t, I’d advise to let go of past transgressions. Someone once told me, regarding a difficult situation I was going through, you won’t remember this in a year from now, probably not even in 3 months for now, so just let it go. She was right! All the energy and negative thoughts I was putting into the situation just to achieve a desired outcome was not worth the distress I was putting myself through. Take the happier option and let it go. Leave all the problems/issues of the workday at the office and start with a clean slate each day. Your personal life and happiness don’t deserve to be encroached upon by someone else’s negativity.