Difficult Co-Workers? Here’s How to Deal with it Constructively

You can build positive relationships and get ahead in your career by learning a few simple conflict resolution tactics.

Being able to deal with a difficult coworker in a constructive way can help you navigate tricky situations. Here are some tips for handling conflict at work or with those in your athletic training program.

  1. Lead by example

Analyze your own behavior before dealing with someone difficult. Make sure you’ve communicated effectively and empathically. Maybe you don’t have to make any changes, but try to evaluate your role in the conflict objectively. If possible, get an objective opinion from a neutral party (not another coworker). The more self-aware you are, the easier it is to exhibit the work behaviors you want to promote.

2. Confront the situation clearly and respectfully. 

Focus on your feelings rather than the other person’s actions when confronting a difficult boss or coworker. As an example, try saying, “I feel dismissed when I can’t finish sharing my thoughts,” instead of “You interrupt me all the time.”

3. Learn to manage different personalities. 

Managing different personality types is sometimes the key to avoiding conflict in the workplace. Someone might need a lot of social interaction to feel engaged, while someone else might like to keep work and personal life separate. You can set yourself and your team up for success by understanding how each other works. Take the time to find out how your colleagues communicate.

4. Stop engaging in workplace gossip 

Gossip is a sign of a toxic workplace. Coworkers gossiping all the time can exacerbate employee insecurities and damage their self-esteem. Refusing to engage in office gossip will improve your working relationships since your coworkers will know you’re trustworthy.

5. Focus on the work you can control 

One of the most common types of difficult coworkers is someone who’s always distracting you. They may want to talk about personal stuff, take frequent breaks, or ask for too many favors. Don’t be afraid to be direct with a coworker like this. Say, “I’m sorry, but I need to focus on work.” Or, “Can we schedule a time to talk about this?”

6. Raise the issue with a manager or supervisor.

Consider bringing a formal complaint to your supervisor if a coworker’s behavior makes you uncomfortable. If all else fails, talk to HR. Document the instances of your coworker making you feel unsafe and tell HR about it.

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