How to Get Along With a Difficult Coworker

While the office can be the perfect place to make new friends post-college, you’re also bound to run into some people and personalities that rub you the wrong way. And in my experience, the key to advancing in your career, building relationships and being happy at work in general is just as much about how you deal with the negatives as the positives.

Now, I have to say, I don’t have this problem here at LC.com. I am beyond lucky and grateful to get to work with some of my favorite people in the world every single day! (I could go on and on about the ladies of LC.com, but I’ll spare you the lovefest.) However, if you work in a larger office or a more corporate company, you will probably be in a position where you have to play nice with a not-so-nice colleague.

I’ve come across my fair share of these “bad apples” in past jobs, and while it’s definitely not fun, it’s something that every single working girl will encounter. So, to help all of you navigate this less than fun situation, I’ve put together a list of some tried and true tips for getting along with any type of difficult co-worker.

Keep It Professional

If you’re in a situation with a less than pleasant co-worker, the best piece of advice that I can offer is to keep personal details at a minimum. You don’t want to divulge anything about your after-hours life that they could potentially use against you. Also, you never want to respond from an emotional place in a work setting. If your not-nice coworker just sent you a nasty email or insulted you face to face, I recommend taking a breath, clearing your head, and responding in a professional and calm manner. It will be to your benefit in the long run, even though it may be difficult to do.

Talk It Out

In some situations, it can be smart to actually confront an uncomfortable work situation so that you and your foe can work out whatever issues are going on. If the person you’re dealing with is completely irrational or somewhat scary, you’ll probably just want to stick to being professional and not try to talk it out. But if you feel like there’s a chance that there’s some tension that has been caused by a misunderstanding, a little honest conversation can heal a strained working relationship quickly.

Kill Them With Kindness

My mother always said, “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.” I would recommend taking this one step further, and if you come across a not-so-nice coworker, go the extra mile to be positive, helpful and a little extra sweet with them. This helps in two ways… first, it prevents them from having anything negative to say about you, and it also lays the foundation for a happier, healthier working relationship.

Step Into Their Shoes

If someone is generally negative and difficult, it’s a good idea to remember that, 99 per-cent of the time, the way someone acts is not about something you did. It usually comes from something that is going on in their personal life, or something that they are struggling with themselves. Now, I don’t think that dealing with something difficult is an excuse to treat your coworker (or anyone for that matter) poorly, but it can give you a little insight as to why they’re acting they way they are. And maybe instead of feeling annoyed or frustrated, instead you’ll be sympathetic and a little more patient with them, which never hurts.

Do you have any pieces of advice to add to the list?

Leave them in the comments!

xo Rachel
Team LC

P.S. If you’re looking for more office etiquette posts, take a peek at this one on resume writing, this one on staying social media savvy at work, and this one on email etiquette.

 

Photo: Orla Kiely
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