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Fast Track: How to Deal with Difficult Colleagues

Fast Track: How to Deal with Difficult Colleagues

Despite your best intentions, you aren’t always going to get along with your colleagues. Differences are bound to crop up from time to time, whether that’s how people want to work, the priorities of a project, and what’s best for business. It’s positive for a workforce to challenge itself, and a certain amount of debate is healthy if workers are going to develop, but some difficult personalities can do more harm than good.

Whether it’s a manager, a team leader, or someone else on your team, we’ve got five tips to make sure you deal with difficult co-workers in a professional manner to guarantee that everyone can make their voices heard but also resolve their differences amicably.

Remain Calm

When someone is angry and frustrated, becoming so yourself will rarely help the situation. While it can be tempting to respond in the same way as your colleague, remain calm and approach any quarrels you have with a level head. If you’re caught up in an argument, take some time away from the situation to compose yourself and think things through before responding.

Many times, an upset co-worker will become more composed if you address them in a calm manner. Show poise in a difficult situation by hearing what they have to say and carefully addressing them to show that you understand their point of view.


Speak Honestly With Them

In the course of addressing your colleague, you may feel the need to agree to things in order for the conflict to be resolved quicker. Lying about your task availability or accepting things that you don’t believe won’t nurture a fruitful working relationship, so stay fair but honest when you speak with them.

If someone is causing you a lot of difficulty, take a moment to speak with them privately. This way, they’ll know you’re treating their behaviour as a sensitive issue, and will likely alter their behaviour accordingly as you discuss the problem. You should always feel comfortable speaking honestly while at work and this stays true in difficult situations.

Ask Them for Help

Many people approach work differently and have distinct standards or beliefs in order to achieve the best results. If someone wants something done a certain way, and you believe they may be uncompromising, ask them to further explain why they approach something the way they do.

Any colleague who joins one company from another can bring with them certain practices that you’re unfamiliar with. This can mean they assume a level of knowledge or experience from you that you simply don’t have. If they expect skills from you which you haven’t developed yet, note down areas that you’re having trouble with and approach them for help so that you can perform to the best of your ability.


Give Them Time

If a co-worker is frustrated, it may pass. If they have a few bad-tempered days together, they may have a stressful presentation or meeting approaching which will take up their mental energy. Bothersome behaviour should only be seen as such if it is persistent, and you should forgive someone for over-reacting if it isn’t commonly in their nature.

Personal situations may also carry over and affect someone’s performance at work, so don’t feel slighted if they don’t wish to discuss things with you. Asking them will show your concern, and sometimes this is enough for someone to realise that their behaviour at work has been affected.

Know Your Internal Options

In companies where a range of departments work closely together, different workplace cultures can clash. Workers driven by targets and statistics might hold alternative attitudes to qualitative and artistically-inclined colleagues. Varied priorities breed a varied workforce of personalities, and while many differences can be amicably resolved, you should know your workplace’s procedure for taking care of those who step over the line.

HR departments work to ensure that everyone in a company feels accepted and valued. If someone is proving to be bothersome, and you’ve already spoken to them about their attitudes or actions, speak to your HR representative about them. They’ll make sure that serious issues are dealt with carefully and things are resolved in due time.


Have any extra tips for difficult colleagues? What do you do to keep your workplace happy? Let us know on Twitter at @viking_chat.

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