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Tips for Dealing With Difficult Personalities At Work

Apr 01, 2021

Just as in your personal life, you're not going to get along with everyone you meet at work. Whether you have a co-worker who underperforms, a manager who micromanages, or just a colleague with a different work style from you, dealing with difficult personalities at work can be a tough situation to navigate. 

Below are 5 effective ways to deal with different or difficult co-workers.

1. Be calm and avoid drama


While it can be tempting to sink to someone’s level, doing so never actually solves anything. Speaking negatively to someone in any way is not likely to get someone to work with you more effectively. 

Therefore, it’s best to stay calm. After all, people who are calm are usually more respected because they are seen as more centered and logical. If that difficult co-worker respects you, they are going to be more willing to collaborate with you. 

2. Put yourself in their shoes 

Sometimes a difficult co-worker is not necessarily a difficult person. They are just someone who works and thinks differently from you. While different ideas and work methods can cause some clashing in the workplace, putting yourself in the other co-workers' shoes is a helpful way to work together more harmoniously. Once you see their intentions and their way of thinking, you can find more effective ways to interact, communicate and collaborate.

3. Have an open discussion

In certain cases, an open discussion can be helpful. It can let the other person know where you are coming from and vice versa. This results in finding a middle ground and working together with less conflict. Asking questions like, “What can I do to help?” or “What do you need from me?” are non-confrontational ways to come to a solution. Statements like, “What would help me is…” is also a helpful way to open a dialogue. 

If you are a manager, having an open discussion may help you identify something that the person needs. For example, does this person need more direction on the task at hand? Do they need more training on how to use a certain software?

4. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries in the workplace is essential to your mental health and preventing burnout. Boundaries also create a culture of respect. Setting boundaries can be helpful (and necessary) for a co-worker who puts their responsibilities onto you, for example. For 21 ways to set boundaries at work, check out my blog post here.

5. Get input from others

Asking friends, family, a mentor or someone else who has dealt with similar situations in the past can help you see things from a different perspective, so you can handle the situation in a better, more effective way. Yet be careful who you consult with. Friends and family outside of your organization are ideal, while going to a boss or co-workers can be seen as gossiping, tattling, or another form of workplace drama. 

Work Toward a Drama-Free Workplace Today

While you can't expect everyone at work to be close friends, there are effective ways to create a culture of respect and communication. To start improving your company culture, I invite you to contact me to see how I can help.

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