Difficult coworkers make the workday so much longer and less pleasant--for everyone. When personality conflicts arise (and they will), it affects the entire workplace. Walking away from a good job just because of one person's bad attitude is not a smart career move. However, leaving everything up to your manager or hoping the situation fixes itself is a not a proactive resolution either. Take these five steps when "dealing" with difficult coworkers.
Don't obsess over a difficult coworker. Once tensions rise, it's easy to feel "on edge" or like you're "walking on eggshells." What should you do? Admit that there's a problem (to yourself or to someone in charge) but don't go overboard. Obsessing over a personality conflict won't fix it. Don't spend all your time at work thinking negatively.
Take personal responsibility for your part in the conflict. Acknowledge any actions and conversations that may have inflamed the situation. There's no doubt that sometimes people act unpredictably but that's not the norm. Blow ups and arguments over work issues rarely spring up suddenly.
Avoid overreacting to a difficult coworker. Unless you want to get fired, you'll have to dial back any negative reactions. After a conflict, you might both be sensitive to one another's actions and there's the likelihood that management will be watching. If it is possible, work away from the other party or at least get a tougher hide. The coworker might use actions like eye rolling, making throat noises and talking under his breath to aggravate you. Don't overreact!
Don't involve others. Like so many high schools around the country, cliques often arise after conflicts occur. People feel compelled to pick sides but don't encourage this behavior. Show off your leadership skills--and maturity--by taking the high road. Avoid getting work friends involved in a tit for tat or "he said" or "she said." This kind of behavior could get you both fired.
Go to the boss for suggestions. Your boss isn't a guidance counselor or high school principal but he might have some good suggestions for dealing with your coworker. Ask for advice for dealing with the relationship. Don't force your boss to pick sides.
Dealing with personality conflicts at work is a part of the modern work experience. Learn to adapt and accept the fact that not everyone will like you. If you feel threatened or unsafe, always report this behavior to someone in charge.
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