Work it Out: Getting Along with Difficult Co-Workers

Published Wednesday, November 24, 2010 4:22 PM

In a perfect world, everybody would get along swimmingly including office co-workers. Alas, offices are full of people, and people come with a range of personalities, and not all interact harmoniously. Snow White may have watched the seven dwarves whistle their way to work but she still had to deal with Grumpy. Some fairytale!  

Getting along well with others is not just a skill for the nursery-school set. The ability to work well with co-workers, clients and bosses is a must for professional growth, no matter the differences in temperament and work styles. So if your days are spent dealing with the office grump, know-it-all, or another personality type that drives you bonkers, read on for some tips for dealing with difficult personalities.

Take a Deep Breath: If a colleague is driving you crazy, take a step back and try to understand if this is simply a "different strokes for different folks" situation. If you see that the person in question simply has a different perspective or style and is not deliberately trying to annoy or harass you, you may find some of your animosity dissipate.

Clear the Air: No one is a mind reader. If you've failed to communicate that someone's behavior is adversely impacting you, how are they to know? Take time to calmly and coolly explain how you feel. They may be unaware that their behavior has upset or bothered you and may be receptive to your concerns.

Agree to Disagree: Sometimes people are truly out of sync. You can agree to disagree with a person's work style or opinion. Just be sure to treat your co-worker professionally and politely and make clear that you expect the same courtesy.

Take it Up with Higher Ups: If a co-worker is deliberately sabotaging you,  shirking work or committing a host of other office sins, schedule time to discuss the situation with your boss. Again, be sure to remain professional and objective. Your boss will be more receptive to your concerns if you don't come off as a complainer or an emotional wreck.

When the Boss is the Bad Egg: Bosses are people too and sometimes you wind up with working for a difficult personality. Again, communication is key; try to dispassionately and professionally communicate your concerns and work towards getting your relationship on a better footing. If the boss just can't be tolerated, consider consulting with your HR department for guidance or in a worst case scenario, explore other job options within the organization or elsewhere.

Have you had trouble dealing with difficult personalities at work? Does your office have any policies that keep office relationships harmonious? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook page.

by Candie Harris


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