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How to Deal With Difficult Coworkers: Everything You Need to Know

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Difficult coworkers can cause unnecessary stress to everyone in the workplace.

They create a toxic environment that’s unproductive and inefficient.

Solutions on how to deal with a difficult coworker can vary depending on the person and workplace culture.

Generally, you want to focus on communication and self-reflection.

You don’t have to take matters into your hands all the time because that’s what supervisors are for.

In this article, we’ll list several steps you can take when dealing with difficult coworkers.

Fostering good working relationships with a difficult colleague is challenging, but it’s not impossible.

How to Deal With Difficult Coworkers

Below are five general courses of action you can take when dealing with conflict between you and a toxic coworker.

1. Reflect on Your Own Behavior First

It’s important to look at yourself first before you start pointing fingers and blaming coworkers.

Self-reflect and assess if your behavior has contributed negatively to the situation.

2. Don’t Let It Get Personal

Never bring any personal issues to the workplace. If faced with a coworker who has unprofessional behavior and is downright mean, take the high road.

It’s okay to limit interactions if you feel that this is the right route to take to avoid any more drama.

3. Focus on Calm Communication

If your coworker exhibits signs of a condescending person, don’t use fire with fire. Instead of snapping back and sparking more arguments, focus on calm communication.

Talk it out and try to find the root of the problem. It’s never a good idea to raise your voice.

Learning how to deal with difficult coworkers helps you form stronger bonds with the people in your workplace. It trains you to be patient, understanding, and compassionate.

4. Reflect on the Benefits of Working With This Person

You should also take the time to reflect on the good qualities this coworker has. What have they contributed to your workplace?

This will help you see this person in a different light.

5. Get a Supervisor Involved

Feuding coworkers are hallmarks of a toxic workplace. If you feel that you can no longer handle the situation yourself, get a supervisor involved.

While being a mediator in the workplace is a good quality to have, it’s not your job to always act as a peacemaker.

How to Deal With Difficult Coworkers Interview Questions

This is a common interview question that can determine whether you make the cut or not.

That’s why you should learn the right answer to it when preparing for the interview.

How Do You Answer This Question?

It’s important that you understand why this question is frequently asked by hiring managers before attempting to answer.

They use this question to gauge your willingness to take action and improve work relationships.

The answer comes in three parts. First, say that you’ll assess if your behavior is contributing to the problem.

It’s important to recognize how your actions and reactions affect the situation—make sure that you aren’t adding fuel to the fire.

Next, say that you’ll take the time to talk to your colleague in private. Try to resolve issues by offering compromises or finding a middle ground.

Lastly, say that you’ll choose to work on the same projects as them. This way, you’ll get several opportunities to work with them and build a strong bond.

Why It’s Important to Have Good Coworker Relationships

A stable coworker relationship can make all the difference in the workplace.

The reasons below explain its importance in more detail.

You Spend a Lot of the Day With Them

Chances are, you’ll be working closely with these people for a long time. It’s easier to work if you genuinely enjoy the company of the people around you.

Building strong bonds within the workplace is also one of the reasons why a worker sticks with a company.

It Can Affect Your Job Performance

When you get along with the people you work with, it’s easier to collaborate on hard tasks.

As a result, having a good relationship with your coworker helps improve the overall performance of the team.

It Can Affect Your Motivation to Work

A good working relationship has a big impact on employee motivation and employee retention as well.

It can increase your motivation to work because it fosters healthy competition and collaboration between coworkers.

Healthy coworker relationships also promote trust within the workplace.

This is important because if you trust your coworkers, you’ll see an increase in the overall team morale of the workplace, too.

When to Involve Your Supervisor

Supervisors are the mediators of issues between team members.

Their goal is to create a conducive working environment for everyone on the team.

If you’re encountering difficult employees, here are the situations when you should involve your supervisor.

When You’ve Addressed It With the Coworker

When you’ve addressed the conflict with the coworker, you’ve done your part.

You’ve set aside the time to talk it over privately. You’ve tried to reason with them and offer compromises.

If that makes no difference, it’ll be time for your supervisor to intervene.

When It Doesn’t Get Better

If you’ve agreed on a compromise, your coworker should hold their end of the bargain.

Behavioral changes—especially bad habits—can be hard to change overnight, but you’d at least expect some level of effort to change them.

If the problem persists and it doesn’t get better, it’s time to use outside help.

When They Are Harassing You

Any job can cause stress—deadlines, expectations, and workload—but you shouldn’t tolerate unnecessary stress caused by difficult coworkers.

These coworkers can quickly become harassers.

Wanting to get somebody fired is a form of harassment.

While it’s good to take the high road, you shouldn’t let people take advantage of your kindness.

If you’ve noticed that your coworker is showing signs of corporate sabotage, call the attention of your supervisor immediately.

When to Consider Another Job

You can get to a point where this difficult situation is too much to handle.

Here are some factors you should consider before choosing another job.

When Your Supervisor Can’t Help

If you notice that your supervisor isn’t actively trying to solve issues between coworkers, it’s time to start the job search.

You deserve a workplace that prioritizes building team synergy.

When It Affects Your Work

Toxic coworkers can create unnecessary stress on top of your workload. If this is negatively affecting your work, your career can become stagnant.

You shouldn’t let anyone—especially coworkers—get in the way of your career growth.

When You Don’t Want to Work Anymore

When difficult coworkers make you feel disapproval towards the role that you have at work, they’re damaging your psyche more than you know.

You should always prioritize your mental health.

If issues with coworkers are making you feel demotivated and even depressed, it’s time to look for greener pastures.

How to Prepare to Talk to Your Supervisor About a Difficult Coworker

If you’re taking the issue with a coworker to your supervisor, here are four steps that can help you prepare.

You want confrontations and talks with your supervisors to go as smoothly as possible.

1. Take Notes

Having notes ready can help you create clearer statements. It’s also helpful when you get caught up in the heat of the moment.

It’s hard to organize your thoughts on the spot, especially when there’s the involvement of emotions.

2. Address Specific Issues

Address specific issues and cite certain instances where your coworker was a difficult person to get along with.

We know that this can be a difficult conversation to have, but don’t let emotions get in the way.

Explain your side of the story, but avoid making assumptions about your coworker’s narrative.

3. Come Up With an Idea or Plan

Don’t enter your supervisor’s office empty-handed. Make sure that you’ve also tried to think of an idea or a plan to solve the issue with your coworker.

This shows your supervisor that you’re actively trying to straighten out your problems.

You can present the steps that you’ve already taken and try to figure out why they were ineffective.

4. Get Backup From Other Employees

If a coworker is causing serious damage to the workplace’s morale, chances are other employees will see it, too. Try to get their statements on the issue.

These statements from others will strengthen your case and show your supervisor that this isn’t a petty fight.

Wrapping Up

Companies should prioritize finding solutions on how to deal with difficult coworkers.

They’re an important ingredient in creating a healthy and productive workplace.

Conflict with coworkers can lead to extra pressure and stress, low motivation, and toxicity.

If you have other questions about how you can deal with a difficult person in the workplace, leave a comment. We’ll do our best to answer and help you out.

If you’re struggling with a difficult coworker, always self-reflect before retaliating.

Stay calm, communicate clearly, and involve a supervisor if necessary.

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