It’s Never Easy
In every office environment, there’s usually one co-worker who’ll get under your skin. They’re never on time, they constantly complain, or they try to get other co-workers to do their work for them.
While you wish you could confront them and tell them off, this dream scenario isn’t approved by HR or your boss. However, there are a few tricks you can learn from savvy employees who choose to get along with co-workers they don’t like. Whether it’s by seeking common ground or changing your perspective, here are 15 ways you can deal with a difficult co-worker so you can get through your work week.
Just because you don’t like the way your co-worker works doesn’t mean you can’t like them on a personal level. The next time you engage in a conversation with them, try to find things in common. Maybe you both live and breathe tacos or share similar tastes in movies. The more you find in common with this co-worker, the easier it may be to get along with them.
Change Your Perspective and Attitude
Rather than hoping for your colleague to change, it might be a better idea to be the bigger person and change your perspective and attitude toward them. When you view your co-worker’s personality through rose-colored glasses, you’re more inclined to laugh things off and ignore the trivial mistakes they make.
Just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean everyone in the office needs to know about it.
The more you talk behind this person’s back, the easier it is to thrive in that negative emotion. Try not to engage in this type of activity if you want to change your perspective. Gossiping will only hurt your reputation and can give the impression that no one can trust you.
Become Aware of What Triggers Their Emotions
You're less likely to be annoyed by someone when you’re already aware of what triggers your anger. Being mindful of the type of personalities that bother you can allow you to anticipate your emotions, and theirs, so you can stop yourself from becoming annoyed.
When you figure out what makes you upset, ask yourself why these behaviors evoke a negative emotion from you. Be honest with yourself, write it down, and see if you can come up with a solution. Sometimes, the answers are right in front of you all along.
Limit One-on-One Time With the Person
Savvy people know when they’ve had enough.
If they feel like their co-worker is not bringing anything positive to their work relationship, then they may choose to limit face-to-face conversations or only engage with them if it’s in a group setting. Keep this in mind the next time you feel like your co-worker is too difficult to handle. Take a walk outside, ask your boss if you can work from home for the next couple of days or work in a different part of the office. All these tricks can help you limit your interactions with a co-worker that doesn’t make you feel like your best self.
Don’t Use Accusatory Language When Addressing an Issue
Dealing with an issue head on is never an easy feat. However, savvy employees know how to get to the bottom of an issue by being mindful of their tone and language.
For instance, use the “When… I feel…” formula to clearly express your emotions. Avoiding accusatory language allows you to focus on the issue at hand without placing blame on your co-worker. By doing this, they won’t feel attacked or the need to be defensive when you talk to them.
Examine Your Expectations
Sometimes people get angry when their expectations are not met. They hope for a different outcome, but they’ll feel sad or angry when that doesn’t happen. To avoid this from happening, savvy employees check their expectations so they don’t set themselves up for these negative emotions.
Focus On the Person’s Strengths, Not Their Weaknesses
As much as you probably can’t believe it, this annoying co-worker was hired for a reason. Focusing on their strengths instead of their weaknesses can make you view them in a better light.
Take note on how they benefit the team. Are they an amazing writer? Do they always provide great solutions? When you view them as an asset to the team, you may not get as easily annoyed as you used to.
Put All Your Energy Into Your Work
Instead of allowing the negative encounters with this co-worker to infiltrate your headspace, try to focus all your energy on your work. Even though some situations are unavoidable, you may want to ignore them and dive deep into your work to get things done and get the heck out of there. This trick can make you more efficient and prevent you from dwelling about this unhealthy work relationship.
Examine Your Own Behavior
As hard as it might be to admit, the issue you have with your co-worker might exist because of you and your perception of them.
Savvy employees don’t let their pride get in the way. If they feel like they’re the only person who's having an issue with a certain co-worker, they’ll examine themselves and their actions. Give this technique a shot to see it from an outsider’s point of view and to acknowledge if you’re overreacting or not.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Even when you don’t like someone, you may want to put your best foot forward.
While it’s completely normal to have a bad day every once in awhile, forcing yourself to have a positive attitude when dealing with a difficult co-worker can prevent you from dwelling on the negativity you’re exposed to. For example, you can have a gratitude journal at your desk to write down what you're grateful for when you’re not feeling 100 percent. Hopefully, this practice will evoke a more positive outlook and prevent you from getting hung up on the not-so-great relationship you have with your co-worker.
Find Ways to Minimize Conflict
It’s easy to feel anxious before heading into work when you know you have to interact with someone you don’t like. However, to make your day flow easier, find ways to minimize any potential conflict between you and this person. Make sure you don’t assume, ask questions, and listen carefully when they speak. Show that you’re interested in their ideas. While this adjustment might take some time getting used to, it should lessen the tension and prevent any future hardships between the two of you.
Do Nice Things For Them
Savvy people try to become the better person by doing nice things for their difficult co-workers. Why? According to Slate, as humans, we want our thoughts and action to be consistent and if we do something nice for someone we don’t like, it can actually make us like them more — a result of cognitive dissonance. So, if you ever need more of a reason to be friendly with your enemies, here it is.
Manage Your Own Reactions
Savvy people choose to manage their reactions when the co-worker they dislike does something that bothers them. Rather than stressing out over what they did, handle your emotions by focusing on your own behavior because that’s the only thing you can control in this situation.
Don’t Take the Behavior Personally
While it can be hard to not take things personally, especially with a difficult co-worker, it’s best to remember that others’ actions most likely have nothing to do with you.
In "The Four Agreements," Miguel Ruiz said, “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” In other words, allowing yourself to get upset over something your co-worker did is only going to hurt yourself, not them. Plus, taking things personally can make you feel like a victim, which can make you feel inferior and not the best version of yourself.