5 Effective Strategies For Dealing With Difficult People At Work


Nov. 16 2015, Published 2:30 a.m. ET

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There’s always one: the toxic coworker or boss that can drive you to drink and question your self worth. They make your work life more difficult and you may feel certain that life would be easier without them.

Although most of us have had our fair share of difficult colleagues, not many of us have mastered the art of dealing with them. Many people feel it is easier to let the hostile behavior slide and hope that it stops. Little do they know, leaving these challenging situations unaddressed will allow the behavior to persist or worsen.

As hard as it may seem, overcoming difficult people in the workplace is not only beneficial for your wellbeing, but can also foster professional growth and satisfaction. Use the following strategies to help navigate your interactions with difficult coworkers.

1. Assess.

Examine yourself and the situation. Does the difficult coworker demonstrate hostile behavior frequently? Does the coworker only treat you this way? It is important to pause and reflect on the conflict before you respond. Take some time to assess your own behavior in the situation and what you can do to solve the issue and make it better on your side.

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2. Approach

After you have assessed the situation, discuss the issue with the difficult coworker in an assertive and polite manner. Choose a mutually convenient place where you can clearly communicate your thoughts. It may be smart to do this within the presence of other coworkers. Avoid complaints and accusations and remember to keep your cool. Never sink to the other persons level.

3. Document.

Make sure to privately note all interactions you have with your colleague. Logging your interactions will allow you to reference specific situations if you need to in the future.

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4. Seek A Mediator.

If your one on one discussion does not work, speak with a trusted advisor. Your boss or HR representative can intervene to help improve the situation. Explain in detail and present your documentation of what is happening to your mediator. Make sure to follow up after your meeting to ensure that your situation is taken seriously and in a prompt manner.

5. Move on.

If possible, limit your interactions with this difficult coworker if you believe the situation is not getting better.

What are some ways you have dealt with a difficult colleague? Leave your comments and suggestions below!

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