Dynamic Happenings

Smart Ways to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers

May 04, 2014 General

Smart Ways to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers

Are you engaged in frequent conflicts at your workplace?
Is one of your co-workers acting as the weak link in the team?
Do you often get carried away in anger over specific co-workers?

If yes, this article is for you. In case of a conflict with a co-worker, the first thing you
need to understand is that the situation won’t get any better if you leave it unaddressed.
Taking a tit-for-tat approach will make it only worse. Trying to decry them publicly might put your reputation at stake. Switching jobs won’t really help either. After all, difficult co-workers come as the part and parcel of the corporate world. So what’s the way out? How to deal with difficult co-workers?

The ideal way is to hear them out and address the disputing points while keeping emotions out of the equation. If you act strategically, you can deal with such co-workers timely and effectively. Before you approach your co-worker, you might want to understand what kind he is. Your approach will differ depending upon the individual and their attributes that bug you. Take a quick look at some common types of troubling workers and best strategies to deal with them.

1. Finger Pointers

Have you missed your deadline off late? Is there a flaw in your monthly sales report?
Well, finger pointers are the kinds of co-workers who discover such things even before you do and they never miss to spread it either. More often than not, these people are more interested in belittling your efforts than to get the things in order. You often tend to feel intimidated in their presence.

Dealing with’em - In case of finger-pointers, mirroring their behavior rarely helps. Giving them counter-arguments will only add fuel to the fire. Better avoid direct confrontations. But when you know you are right, you need to take a stand and get your point across firmly. 

2.  Gossip Queens

Rumor Mongers believe in sharing; lies and half-known facts. They are masters at fabricating truth and they do this with no regret. They are verbose communicators and you can expect to know much more about a gossip, than you can ever wish for.

Dealing with’em - There’s a famous quote - Those who gossip with you will gossip about you. The best way to deal with gossip queens is not to deal with them at all. Never get tempted to share your personal stuff with such co-workers, unless you want to make it public.

3.  Idea Stealers

The peculiar thing about idea stealers is what seems as an innocent probing out of curiosity is actually their well- planned strategy to get out your big idea and present it as their own. Something of this sort happened between Newton and Leibniz over the invention of calculus. It’s still a mystery who of the two actually invented it first.

Dealing with’em - Keep a written chronological record of your ideas and activities so that you can present the ownership, if you need to.

4.  Melodramatics

They are just a little too sensitive about everything and more often than not, they are vocal about their inner turmoil. Having a natural talent for theatrics, they often tend to deploy it for gaining sympathy from fellow workers. For them, professionalism takes a back seat to self-expression.

Dealing with’em – One way to deal with melodramatics is to listen to them patiently and help resolve their issue. But if you don’t want to waste your time and energy, you should excuse yourself out of the conversation, straightaway.

5.  Know-it-All’s

There’s at least one of this kind at every workplace. If you went river rafting last week, they had been through the fiercest rapids. If the topic of discussion is economic policies, guess who the expert is. Well, they are. The way to go about these kinds is to first identify if they have really been there and done that all or are they just making tall claims. Know-it-All’s are usually more productive and knowledgeable than others. They are really not troublesome until their intention is to put others down.

Dealing with’em - The things get much easier once you know if the person in question pretends to know it all or knows it for real. The pretending types can be easily dealt with once you catch them on the wrong foot. As far as the omniscient co-workers are concerned, avoid confrontation if possible and make it clear that they have their own perspective and you have your own. The other way is to get well equipped with facts and counter-arguments for the upcoming meeting. Be proactive, do your homework, roll up your sleeves and take them by horns.

6.  Procrastinators
These co-workers often find it hard to get the work done on time. They tend to procrastinate every single task assigned to them. More often than not, they are the last ones to punch in, first ones to punch out, the busiest ones doing unproductive activities and usually the ones who prefer to be the least accountable of all.

Dealing with’em - Assign fixed set of responsibilities and make them accountable for it. Ask them to document their tasks in daily reports. This will put a leash on their slackening habit.

Handy Tips to Handle Conflicts

We have to realize and accept the fact that not all fingers are of same length. In today’s age of diverse workforce, it is important to learn to appreciate and celebrate the differences. Moreover, getting along with co-workers, both good and bad, add some solid points while you are being considered for promotion and appraisal. Here are a few tips to make your way out of conflicts with difficult co-workers.

Stay Calm or Don’t Stay at All - The cooler you are, the better you can handle a conflicting situation. It is very important to stay professional. Try not to make any controversial statement as it can be used against you. If you find yourself getting carried away in the heat of the moment, you better walk away and deal with the situation after a while.

Focus on the Points, not the Person – Conflicts are part and parcel of any working environment. But indulging in blame-games has never helped anybody to resolve the conflict. To work your way out of a conflict, you need to keep your egos in the backseat and rather focus on the points of conflict. Listen to the other person empathically and propose a sensible solution.

Keep Concerned People in the Loop – In case of a conflict, if the co-worker is not receptive of your counter-argument, pull in a third party, preferably from human resource department to help resolve the issue. It’s very important to ensure that the third party is neutral and unbiased.


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