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How to Deal with a Difficult Coworker: Essential Tips

Posted in Job Market

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This blog often focuses on the struggles involved in finding a job. However, it’s unfortunately true that simply getting a job doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing from then on. You might still encounter other difficulties in your career.

For example, perhaps you’re struggling to manage a relationship with an uncooperative coworker. This can make what might otherwise be a rewarding job a frustrating experience.

The following tips for dealing with difficult coworkers will help. Just keep in mind that they aren’t universally applicable. For instance, if a coworker is genuinely harassing you, reporting the issue to HR is likely the better option than trying to manage it yourself.

Dealing with a Difficult Coworker: Tips You Need to Know

Don’t Ignore It

Many people don’t like conflict. Thus, it’s not uncommon for people struggling with difficult coworkers to ignore the problem, hoping it will resolve itself on its own.

That’s unlikely to be the case. A difficult coworker probably won’t just “snap out of it” one day and realize they’ve been unfair. Instead, you need to be willing to address the situation, even if doing so is uncomfortable.

Just make sure you remain calm when expressing yourself. You don’t want to escalate an already tense situation by approaching your coworker with anger.

Be Honest with Yourself

It’s worth noting that there are instances when people feel they are struggling with a difficult coworker, not realizing they might actually be the cause of the problem. This is often the case when someone seems to “always” have bad coworkers.

It’s not very probable that you’ve had bad luck and always wind up with coworkers who treat you unfairly. Maybe you’re overreacting to what is actually entirely acceptable behavior. While you shouldn’t dismiss your own genuine concerns, you do need to step back and honestly examine whether your coworker is actually difficult, or you’re merely perceiving their behavior incorrectly.

Understand the Cause

A little bit of empathy can go a long way. You’ll be much more likely to determine the best way to successfully address a difficult relationship at work if you identify the probable cause first.

Of course, sometimes the cause doesn’t justify a coworker’s treatment of you. Maybe after examining the situation, you realize a coworker is treating you poorly because they’re jealous that you were chosen for a promotion that you nevertheless genuinely earned. Or, perhaps their supervisor is treating them poorly, and they’re taking their stress out on you.

Knowing the cause of the problem doesn’t mean you need to believe the problem is justified. That said, the proper steps you must take to deal with a difficult coworker will be directly tied to the specific nature of the situation. You’ll find it’s much easier to determine what those steps are once you determine why your coworker is behaving poorly.

Once again, while these tips for dealing with difficult coworkers may help you resolve your situation, you also need to remember that sometimes the best thing to do is let HR handle the issue. Use your judgment when deciding if that’s the best course of action.

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