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
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
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.