It is impossible to unconditionally like everyone you meet and the same goes true for your workplace. At work you are expected not only to be constantly around people that can be labeled as ‘difficult’, but to interact with them, work with them as a team, and perhaps take orders from them in some cases. The idea that they are difficult is no doubt portrayed by their behavior towards others or yourself that puts you off and makes working with them a pain.
What Are Difficult Coworkers Like?
Difficult people may have one or several of the following character and behavior traits:
- Being talkative and not listening enough
- Excessive complaining/whining
- Overly critical
- Dominating over equals
- Being rude and disrespectful
- Unreliable and slacking on commitments
- Not giving others due credit for their work
This list is by no means exhaustive; it points out some of the common issues employees have with other workers at their organizations and offices. We all know of some people, or at least one person, who has problems like these and we wish to stay away from them as much as possible. However, it is important to work on better ways of dealing with them and improving work relationships so your productivity and career do not suffer.
How Can I Effectively Work With Difficult People?
Since it has already been pointed out, running away is usually not an option to get away from people you do not like unless the situation has become so extreme that you are willing to quit your job. With effort you can help smoothen out many of your unpleasant work relationships and help build a better, more conducive environment for everyone.
Firstly, try to evaluate the person and your dealings with them in an objective, unbiased manner. Often, previous experiences and unconscious bias makes us judgmental about a person and affects our future interaction. Figure out if there really is a problem or if you are just overreacting and judging people in a flawed, unfair manner. Give others the benefit of the doubt.
Realize that it is near impossible to change someone else to your liking – so work on the things that you can change and are in your control. This involves your thinking and your behavior! Since you are the one being affected by someone else, you should take the initiative in improving your communication.
When communicating with the person, keep calm and your anger under control. Stay quiet and actually listen to what he/she is trying to say; not just the overall theme, but underlying tones that will tell you why that person is behaving the way they do or what exactly they are trying to say beneath the rough manner. Don’t counter an attack with an attack; avoid conflict by letting the other finish and then asking questions to start a productive problem-solving process rather than the usual argument.
With constant complainers and pessimistic coworkers who end up sapping your energy and dampening your own morale, avoid times where they can engage you in useless conversation or change the topic to something less morbid. Counter their whining with cheerfulness until they realize they cannot constantly victimize themselves in front of you.
Once you are willing to change your own attitude and responses, difficult people will no longer be able to feed off your reactions and relations should improve. Lastly, enlist the help of a boss if things are getting out of hand.