There will always be someone at work that you don’t jive with. This has been my experience at nearly every job I’ve have had. I’ve worked with extreme perfectionists, bullies, poor communicators and the list goes on. While you can’t control people’s personalities, you can control how you cope deal with these people. It’s not always easy, and it’s taken me years of trial and error to get it right, but I’ve gotten much better at working with difficult people at work since I started my career nearly three years ago. So since you can’t take a class in dealing with a difficult co-workers, here are some tips on how I’ve learned to deal with them over the years.
1. Know Your Worth
My biggest challenge when I was new to the corporate world was learning to be an advocate for myself. I had to develop the courage to ask for what I needed and speak up when something was wrong. Being an advocate for myself is still a process I’m working on; I’m terrible at confrontation and struggle to bring problems to my superiors for fear of ‘bugging them’. I often think, ‘don’t they have better things to do than listen to me complain about my co-workers’ radio? Well – yes and no. The office space is just as much mine as it is my co-workers’, and while I would never demand anyone throw their radio out or cease listening to it, all I ask is that it be at a reasonable volume.
2. Problem Solve Without Management
My strategy with this is using direct eye contact and using very few words, “Hey, can you please turn the radio down?” If I’m unable to focus on my work because of someone else’s behavior, that’s a problem. I’m held accountable for my work, and when I don’t meet deadlines I have to answer to that. Our bosses cannot be everywhere at once, and if they don’t know you have a problem they can’t help you fix it – so it is up to you to advocate for what you need.
3. Learn When You Need Management
While many problems can be solved between co-workers without intervention from management or HR, some do require intervention. An example of this is when you encounter a workplace bully. Workplace bullying is a form of aggression; it can be subtle or it can be obvious. Have you been intimidated, humiliated, belittled, yelled at or had a co-worker swear at you? These are all examples of bullying, and it’s something that employers’ take seriously since it can cause all sorts of effects on the worker and workplace, like being absent or symptoms of stress such as stomach aches, headaches and anxiety.
4. Stand Up For Yourself
The best place to start when dealing with a workplace bully is with your own manager or the HR manager. They need to be aware of the situation so that they can help to repair the damage long-term. Co-workers are not allowed to humiliate you, harass you and make you feel unimportant or unsafe in your workplace – so if you’re feeling this way, don’t just let it go or try to deal with it yourself. You were hired as an important member of the team and you should be treated this way.
No person or workplace is perfect, but there’s no need to feel inferior or unwelcome in your workplace. The space is just as much yours as it is anyone else’s, and you have the right to feel comfortable and welcome in that space. Different personality traits are what make us all unique, and sometimes these traits can make up a great team – but when these traits are hurtful, they need to be addressed. Not in a month, not in a week – now!