We can all relate to challenging coworkers who get a thrill from complicating situations. Whether it’s a power struggle or unresolved issues at core, such individuals can be a burden to work with. Difficult employees not only influence colleagues but the company as a whole, impacting employee longevity and work performance. Therefore, it’s critical to be prompt in addressing and settling problematic behaviors.
10 TIPS FOR CONFLICT-RESOLUTION WHEN DEALING WITH DIFFICULT COWORKERS
Tip #1 Pinpoint problematic behaviors:
Take note of demands, insults, or other rude comments done by a colleague or team members at work. This information may come in handy if you need to schedule a meeting with a supervisor. Some challenging behaviors include arrogance, moodiness, jealousy, extreme competitiveness, rudeness, selfishness, demanding, derogatory statements, yelling, making fun of others, and mean comments.
Tip #2 Assess the situation:
Is it common for the individual to behave in this manner, or can they be having a bad day? It’s important not to take things personal if someone is having a hard day at work. On the other hand, some individuals like to complicate matters for everyone else. Ask yourself the following questions: Is this person simply having a difficult day? Are factors in his/her personal life triggering negative responses towards others at work?
Tip #3 Identify the problem:
Do you notice the same behaviors with other coworkers, or does it appear to be a personal issue? Perhaps this employee has a short fuse and gets upset easily. Other times employee frustrations result from the role of a particular individual(s) in the company. For example, if you were chosen for the manager position regardless of another employees seniority in the company. In this case, frustration is taken out on the individual for the position they hold, not for personal traits. If this employee were to be demoted, the problematic behaviors from the coworker would most likely dissipate. There are also employees, who don’t like individuals who hold leadership positions. Again, it’s not a personal issue, but rather a generalized attitude towards individuals who sustain managerial positions in the workforce.
Tip #4 Confront the problem:
Once you’ve taken time to identify the problem it’s important to confront the situation. Unresolved issues tend to worsen over time, partly related to assumptions and the buildup of negative emotions. If you find it safe to speak directly with the individual, do so with caution and in a professional manner. It’s best to involve a third party such as a manger or supervisor who can direct the situation and assist with problem-solving strategies.
Tip #5 Maintain a positive attitude:
Regardless of the final outcome keep a positive attitude. No one person is liked by all, meaning we will likely experience disapproval from another at some point in our lives. It’s advisable not to take another’s actions personal, but rather to focus on fulfilling your job role. Maintaining a professional relationship with coworkers is key for job fulfillment. Although it may be challenging to uphold a good attitude with difficult coworkers, it serves as a personal benefit and gratification to keep positive.
Tip #6 Stay professional:
Don’t lower your standards and professional conduct for anyone. Even if you are informed of others who are spreading rumors or gossiping about you, don’t fall into the trap. In time people will notice your character and those of problematic coworkers.
Tip #7 Uphold confidentiality:
Refrain from sharing your personal circumstance with other employees. Keep things private between the difficult employee and your supervisor. There is no need for others to get involved.
Tip #8 Show kindness:
Displaying kindness eventually offsets challenging behaviors. The challenging co-worker will realize that his/her tactics are simply not working. Even if the issue continues, your consideration will be evident to other coworkers who can serve as a support system and advocates if need arises.
Tip #9 Change your work environment:
If possible request a transfer to another department or office space. Some companies offer various work shifts, allowing for flexibility in work days and time. Other organizations have multiple locations permitting for employee transfers within the company.
Tip #10 Stay true to your character:
Regardless of another’s behavior, stand your ground and stay true to your character. Don’t hand your potential with the company to someone else. Interact as little as possible with problematic individuals. When assigned projects with such coworkers keep conversations to the point, stay polite, and be confident in your skills as a valuable employee to the company.