Most of us have worked with people who have brought out the worst of us at some point in our lives, and some of you may have the misfortune to be going through this right now, but there are some simple ways to deal with difficult colleagues so they don't spoil your day. That means that you will be able to work more and hate a little less. Just like our families, we can't choose whom we work with, but finding ways to tolerate the people we encounter in the rich tapestry of the work place can make for a more harmonious working environment. The way in which you deal with the colleagues may depend on the position you hold within the organization. If you're a manager for example, your colleagues may be a little more difficult than if they're on the same pay scale. Having management responsibility may mean that you sometimes have the pleasure of dealing with non-compliant colleagues who choose not to do things. This is human nature, and whilst some people might genuinely forget to do the things they need to do, others make it their mission to make your life as difficult as possible, just because they can. So how do we deal with these issues in the work place? Here are some ways to deal with difficult colleagues that I have picked up along the managerial path.
1. Finding Common Ground
Finding common ground with co-workers is often one of the best ways to deal with difficult colleagues. Like everything in life, building a rapport and having mutual respect is key. You don't have to be best buddies and share your deepest and darkest secrets but it's important to find some things which you have in common so that you're able to draw on these in your working relationship.
Speaking to someone who has a little more experience in dealing with awkward colleagues may help too. They may have some hints and tips for dealing with that particular colleague or they may have had the pleasure of dealing with someone similarly as cantankerous in their professional past.
3. Talking It through
If you're having real issues with that particular person, confront them but not in an aggressive way. Speak to them and acknowledge that you may not necessarily be seeing eye to eye professionally, but see if there are any ways in which you can reach a compromise. As difficult as it may be, take a breath and be as pleasant as you can be to them. It is quite possible that they have no idea about the way in which they are behaving and the impact it might be having. They may be having issues and challenges of their own, so having a discussion with them may help illuminate some of the issues and find a path forward.
4. Don't Take It Personally
Hands up if you take your work home with you? I used to have a tendency to do so and found it almost impossible to metaphorically 'switch off' when I left the work place. Sometimes peoples' words would whir around my head for hours, but whilst I used to take things personally, I now try my very best to think that it's nothing personal. Remember, no matter how much they may seem to be trying to make your life a misery, it's not you. They may not be doing this deliberately but they do have some issues that you can help them work through.
Offer your colleague something in return, if you have the power to do so that is. It may be that they need simple targets to reach the professional goal, but think about what else you could do for them in return and negotiate.
6. Mirror Mirror
I have found through life that sometimes we have to look at ourselves. If we're having the same problems then it may be time to reevaluate our actions and consider whether there are patterns of behaviors. Self examination shouldn't lead to an attack on ourselves though. Looking at our patterns of behavior and the ways in which we deal with others may reveal some insights into what pushes our professional buttons and how to ensure we can deal with it when someone does just that.
7. Taking It Higher
It may take time for someone to come around to your way of thinking. Give them time - but, of course, if time is an issue and you feel as though you have used all the resources available to you, it may be time to take it up the managerial ladder and see if someone in the upper echelons of the organization can deal with the particular co-worker.
Has anyone else had the challenge of dealing with difficult co-workers? How have you dealt with them and do you have any hints and tips you could share?