How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work


Whether it be their attitude, their laziness, or the fact that they just won’t stop talking, just about everyone wants to know how to deal with difficult people at work. Sound familiar?

This is a problem that is usually not addressed at the start of a job, yet it can hinder your production and bring down your attitude. If one of your co-workers takes away your motivation to come to work, something needs to be done. However, this is not always an easy task.

You work at your job 40 hours a week, the last thing you want to do is create an enemy out of a co-worker. In other words, take caution because this could turn out to be very sensitive subject.

If you deal with an annoying co-worker in the wrong way, you could end up having a bigger problem on your hands than you did before. Can you say backfire?

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Problem co-workers will always use some tried and tested tools in the business. To be prepared against these six weapons is to be ready to deal with difficult co-workers.

Gossip

The best way to deal with gossip is to listen quietly and not join in—even if you have a particular opinion about what is being said. Chances are your co-worker wants a reaction out of you. If you sit and listen quietly, they will likely move on to another co-worker to dish the gossip.

Non-stop babble

There are a few ways you can approach this problem. If you know someone is a chatterbox, try making up an excuse for not being able to talk before he/she gets going with their story from last night. Most co-workers who like to talk are still respectful and will let you get your work done.

Jealousy

For whatever reason, there are occasions where a co-worker does not like you. They could be jealous you got a promotion they wanted, or maybe your new position in the company somehow altered their work environment.

Whatever the case may be, the best thing to do is maintain a normal relationship. Say hello and be nice, but nothing more. If a bad look comes your way, don’t shoot back with another bad glance. Try to avoid these co-workers as much as possible, and be pleasant when you are forced to see them.

Too Much Confidence

Occasionally, there are co-workers who think that everything they do is correct (and sometimes everything you do is wrong). In this situation, you should remain calm but continue to do things your way. Listen to their advice, but if you really think that your way of doing things is correct, continue working.

Once your ideas work, your co-worker will have no choice but to accept your idea. This may make them bitter, but ultimately they cannot be upset with you for doing the right thing (just make sure you didn’t ignore good advice!)

Laziness

Unfortunately, a co-worker who is lazy is likely giving you a bigger work load. This is tricky because you want to keep a good relationship with your co-worker, and you don’t want to make trouble with your boss.

The best thing to do in this situation is tell your co-worker you simply cannot do their work because you have too much of your own. You will feel better if you are not taking someone else’s work, and ultimately your co-worker will benefit from learning how to accept their workload as theirs.

Complaining

If someone near you complains day in and day out, it has become more of a character trait than something that needs to be “fixed.” No matter what you do, your co-worker will likely find something to complain about on any given day.

Therefore, the best thing to do is try and change the subject. If this doesn’t work, try agreeing with your co-worker. They may just want sympathy, and if you don’t give it to them they may leave you alone quicker than you think.

Ultimately, the key is to remain calm and positive. Standing up for yourself is one thing, but in an office situation it is best to try smoothing over a situation without making the other person upset.

How do you deal with difficult people at work? Tell us in the comments!


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Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for an online resource that gives inbound call center and telephone answering service advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs at Resource Nation.
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Discussion

  1. Tom on the 2nd September

    Thanks for this article ! I have to deal with it everyday, especially with a person who’s alway touching other, as a spontaneous expression or affection or sympathy. In French we use the word « tacticle ». This person can not chat with someone withou touching his/her arm, shoulder, etc. and I HATE THAT. There is no problem with people who are close to me (family, friends) but co-wokers and unknown people make me feel uncomfortable.

    But as I’m polite and don’t want to create a conflict between us (we spend 8 hours a day in the same office), I don’t know how to deal with this problem, without frustrate her. She looks emotionnaly fragile.

    An other point which sometimes drives me crazy is to work in an open space, where we can hear everyone speaking, chatting, phoning, typing. But no choice. I planned to use ear muffs but it’s too social misfit.

    I hope my english is understandable :P

  2. Daquan Wright on the 2nd September

    @Tom: If you don’t want to be touched, then it’s best you say that. It’ll be worse if you just snap one day, don’t continually let frustration build.

    “For whatever reason, there are occasions where a co-worker does not like you. They could be jealous you got a promotion they wanted, or maybe your new position in the company somehow altered their work environment.”

    One of my family members was dealing with that, it’s annoying.

    I agree, being disciplined and controlled is the key to dealing with these situations. The weakness is people are emotional beings, but it must be controlled at all times.

  3. Simon Duck on the 5th September

    Ahhh the annoying people at work. I have someone who is always seeking attention, telling me about their life and just being a general pain. Yes I don’t mind someone telling me that they broke up with their girlfriend, but when it it gets spoken about everyday for the next six months it starts to do you in.

    Obviously I have learnt to just tell him to stop and, not in a rude way, get over it. However, you can’t be to harsh or it could cause further problems. Things like this will always exist, I like to think it makes the day a bit more interesting haha.

    Regards,
    Simon Duck.

  4. John Zimmermann on the 5th September

    Great article as I think we have all encountered a difficult person at work one time or another. I had one once who was loud and wouldn’t stop talking. It took her 30 minutes to explain something when most people would have done it it 2 minutes.

    I would employ the technique you wrote in your article where I would make an excuse to leave any time she started to talk to me. It worked like a charm and I think after awhile she got the hint and stopped talking to me unless she really needed something.

    John Zimmermann

  5. James Richard on the 6th September

    It’s difficult avoid these people because of professional or social pressures,Allowing these people to change your mood, attitude or outlook on life diminishes who you are.Being able to deal with them and carry on with doing your own thing is easy if Knows Who You Are by keep reminding yourself that you have more important things in your life than allowing the attitude of difficult people to affect you.

  6. Amber on the 6th September

    I am a woman of faith, and this is huge struggle of mine: to get along with the impossible. Anyways through many days of devotion and study I’m learning these same tricks myself. God calls us to love everyone even your enemies, but we all know some things are easier said than done. I’ve learned to call these people my “sandpaper people” which basically means these are the people God places in your life on purpose to ultimately make you smoother and more refined in the end. You can’t make your co worker or boss even be less of a jerk, but you have all control over how you choose to react to them. Good attitudes are contagious just as bad ones are. So choose to be that positive engery everyone else feeds off of.

  7. Ian Bert Tusil on the 9th September

    In lieu to non-stop babblers, I often get the non-stop chatters. Less obtrusive than non-stop babblers but sometimes the annoyance are the same. What I usually do with non-stop chatters(ex. the BOSS and Managers), I shut my IMs off and even my email client and just focus on what i do.

  8. Shekhar on the 9th September

    I have same problem here. Hope this helps me.

  9. Amanda DiSilvestro on the 13th September

    I have been a writer for a while now, and I will say this is the first article dealing with this subject that I have ever written because I always assumed it was common sense. Everyone has the annoying co-worker, I figured you smile, ignore, do what you have to do to get through the day. I always assumed it all depended on the person. It was not until I started speaking up about this topic that I realized there are “categories” of annoying people! Better yet, there are certain ways to deal with each that differ! I love hearing that I am not the only one who feels this is a worthwhile subject to discuss. Thanks for the stories!

    • abdulsalami halimat on the 14th December

      people are difficult

  10. Setshego Bantobetse on the 26th September

    I must I’ve come a long way. I used to get frustrated of such people to a point of getting physically sick. But today, I am proud to say I can handle all these characters like a pro. What I read, like the woman of faith above said, I learned that it is not always about the next person but about how you handle situations and people and their attitudes. What and who you are, can and will only make matters better or worse depending on how you respond to it. I have a strategy that I use and even taught my head of department, every morning I say this words “God, please help me to be a better person today than I was yesterday. May I have understanding and patient with my colleagues in Jesus Christ Name, Amen. Whether you believe in this or not, it worked and still works wonders for me. And I am happy at work because I made it be about me and not the next person. Afterall we are all fighting a battle or two. Stay blessed.

  11. Jianye on the 1st October

    Hey everyone, i am new here. Anyway, i need some tips on how to deal with this difficult female colleague from the Sales department. It goes like this:

    She is Single, around 30, works as a Sales Executive

    Communication:
    Very often, she will send customer request to my department. When i receive the request, i will review it and seek confirmation or explain to her. When i explain to her numerous times she just can’t understand what i am trying to tell her. To see if my way of explanation was wrong, i explained the same way to my other colleagues and they had no difficulty understanding me. Left with no choice, i asked my boss (he’s aleady married) to help me explain to her. I sat beside him to hear him what he told her over the phone and realised it’s the same explanation as mine yet she understood in minutes! I was like, huh?

    Trust:
    When everything is explained to her, we expected her to convey the same meaning to customer yet when we when saw the email, we almost fainted. The way she put it, even a third party will also not understand what she is trying to say or worse, confuse her and us. It’s not the 1st time, it’s many times already.

    When i seek confirmation from her, she will through email or on a document confirm it yet when the customer reply came back, it’s another thing and worse, complicated the whole issue! This has happened numerous times………..

    Everyday i go to work, i dread receiving her requests, seeing her anywhere in the company or even outside office. Just the sight of her makes my mood turn bad a notch.

    By the way, i am not the only person to have problems with her…it’s the whole company. She has engaged in shouting match with managers, asked customer to do her work for her, being inconsiderate by typing loudly on her Iphone (whatsapp) and many other countless acts which i do not know of and do not want to know of.

    Thank you & Regards

  12. CC on the 6th October

    How can we deal with flirting guys?

  13. vivek on the 21st October

    Thank you for the tips and i hope i will try to implement those with my co-workers,

    and tell me that, they if they are creating differences between me and my other co-workers at work , then how to solve this problem ?

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