No matter where you work it is guaranteed that you will meet people who may be difficult to deal with. Making decisions and completing your tasks may prove to be a burden if you have to collaborate with these individuals. The following tips should help you better engage and get along with difficult co-workers.

  1. Understanding is Key

One of the major reasons you may be having problems dealing and interacting with that difficult co-worker is misunderstanding. An individual’s personality may have a lot to play in how you receive the message they are trying to send. It is important that you attempt to fully understand the individual, how they express themselves and their usual thought patterns. This can help you when trying to decipher what the person is trying to say and will ensure that you do not focus and harbor on the negative things about the person. Listen to what the person is saying and hear them out.

  1. Avoid Negativity and Disrespect

Even though you may have exhausted all of your patience and understanding, it is integral that you still remain calm when dealing with the difficult person. If you give in to your negative emotions and dislike of the person it will become transparent when you are interacting with them. Negative responses can trigger further negative behaviours from the difficult co-worker.

  1. Choose your Battles

It is important to choose your battles wisely. Dealing with a difficult person may become tedious and irritating, however, you need to know when to respond and when not to engage with the individual. Ideally, you should try to interact with him/her only when it is absolutely necessary. Do not sink to the same level as the individual by responding in a similar manner. This makes the situation worse and can cause added tensions.

  1. Approach the Situation

Do not let the situation fester and get worse. By complaining about the difficult worker with other co-workers or by letting situations pass without addressing it, you are allowing it to grow and become the norm. This will make it even more difficult when you decide to address your issues. Try talking to the individual –in private- and express your concerns about their behaviour and any other issues you may have. Ensure that you are not attacking the person but rather pointing out behaviours you may find difficult to work with. Address the issue as something that you have had a problem with rather than making it seem as though the individual themselves are a problem.

  1. Make Friends

Being friendly with the person may be the last thing you may think of doing, however, it may just turn out in your favour. You may find that once you get to know the person you will be better able to understand them and their behaviour. You may even find that they are not as difficult to get along with, as they once seemed.

  1. Find the True Problem

Figure out exactly why you think the person is difficult to deal with. Isolate the problems you are having with the individual and speak with others around you to determine if other people are experiencing the same issues as you are. This way you can be sure that you are not being affected based on your own personal biases or issues.

  1. Follow the Chain of Command

After you have reasonably tried all other methods to dealing with a difficult co-worker it is necessary to take the issue to the next level. Disruptive and difficult co-workers can affect your work. You should therefore recognize when the situation is beyond you control and report the situation to be resolved by senior management.

  1. Flee

This is by far the least recommended tactic, however, it may become necessary if the situation is beyond control. If senior management has been unsuccessful in dealing with the difficult employee then it may be time for you to consider the pros and cons of your situation. Figure out if it makes sense for you to remain in that department or organization or if it would be more worthwhile to seek employment elsewhere. You can opt to transfer to a different department or leave to avoid having to interact with the difficult employee.

Alternatively, you can insist that there is a third party present during all your interactions. This is useful as the third party can now be a witness to the distasteful behaviour you have been affected by and they can also serve as a buffer, as difficult people tend to be less difficult if there are others around to witness their behaviour.

The following links can further help you in knowing how to deal with difficult co-workers. :