• Home  / 
  • Career
  •  /  How To Deal With Difficult Colleagues

How To Deal With Difficult Colleagues

How To Deal With Difficult Colleagues

Stay in a job long enough and one thing is certain—the difficult colleague will raise his or her ugly head. Yep, every workplace has at least one, and   while their modus operandi may vary by person, they all have one thing in common—they’re an absolute pain in the rear to work with and even      worse to attempt to manage. Read on to learn how to deal with difficult colleagues & coworkers at the office.

But, work with them you must or risk being labeled an N.A.T.P. (not a team player), which could shorten your climb up the corporate ladder. So, if   you find yourself confronted with characters like the “my way or the highway” bully or the drama queen who creates a crisis just so she can solve    it, keep these tips in mind.

 No Cookie Cutter Approach

Francie Dalton, a leading business consultant specializing in communication, management and behavioral science issues, stresses that a one-size-   fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to working with and motivating difficult people in the workplace simply doesn’t work. Instead, you need a    customized approach for each individual.

In her book, “Versatility: How to Optimize Interactions When Seven Workplace Behaviors Are at Their Worst,” Dalton asserts that if you can identify and push each individual’s buttons just right, you actually can use their quirks to your advantage. “The secret is to package what you want from each individual in a way that makes them want to deliver it to you,” says Dalton.

How To Deal With Difficult Colleagues

How To Deal With Difficult Colleagues

Everybody Knows One of These People

While each person must be evaluated and dealt with individually, these are some of the most common bad characters you might run into on the job:

Bullies or Attackers: Dalton calls them “often the most demoralizing influence in the workplace” because in their quest to get their way, they won’t hesitate to attack you in a staff meeting in a demeaning or sarcastic manner. If you find yourself under attack, let them vent and keep your cool but don’t back down. Stick to the key issues. Know your facts and don’t let them throw you off your game by taking what they’re saying personally. Once you’ve kicked their butt in the battle of wits, give them a way to back out of the situation gracefully. That will lower your chances of coming under attack again in the future.

Whiners: Seeing a Whiner approach your office makes you want to get out the ear plugs. Whiners can wear you out and waste precious time, but they need to be heard or it will get worse. The key is to limit the whining. Throw it back on them by asking how they believe the situation they’re whining about can be fixed, and, if you have to, make a list of the whiner’s complaints and discuss each one by addressing the related facts. That can sometimes disarm them. But don’t indulge their whining if they are at fault.

The Yes Man: Pleasant but ultimately a problem, the Yes Man can hang you out to dry by saying ‘Yes’ to your request only to find out he can’t possibly do it because he has said ‘Yes’ to everyone else. These people desperately seek approval, and they don’t handle negative situations or stress well. Be careful what you ask them to do, follow up frequently and ask for interim status reports. Tell them how you’d appreciate it if they get that done for you. That might get you a place at the top of their very long to-do list.

The Know It All: You just want to punch these people sometimes, but violence will get you fired, so be prepared to defend yourself, because the Blow Hard is obsessed with finding your flaws. Preparation is key. Know your facts. Since the Know It All is usually preoccupied with dominating the conversation by spewing data and opinions, you might be able to get the upper hand by listening carefully and asking for further explanation in the form of questions. “So, Bob, you say you can reduce stock levels, speed delivery time and raise revenues; can you provide the details?” In essence, let them blow holes in their own half-baked ideas by asking questions leading in that direction. After all, they insist on doing all the talking.

Final Thoughts

When a colleague appears to be out of control, you need to keep your cool and stay focused on getting your job done. Don’t take what they’re saying personally, and continue to clearly communicate what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it.

Try to keep the lines of communication open, even when they’re being a jerk. Some communication is better than none at all, and remember that it often isn’t what someone says to you, it’s how you react to it that can resolve a thorny issue with a problem person.

Is someone at work annoying you, comment below and tell us about how you deal with difficult colleagues at work