Handling Difficult Co-workers

I am sure we would all agree that people are as different as apples and oranges.  In most workplaces you will find many different personality types that may or may not blend well. It would be wonderful if everyone at work could get along well, but as we have all experienced, this is not always the case.

Be very careful how you handle the situation when working with someone who is difficult for you to get along with, as it may backfire on you. If there is a certain coworker that “really bothers you,” do not complain too quickly, or at least before you do conduct a complete examination of the situation that maybe causing the issue.

Before issuing a complaint you need examine yourself to make sure that it is not you that is causing the "rub" between you and your co-worker.  Often when people have a co-worker that is difficult to work with they start to complain to their superiors about them, hoping, that they will resolve the problem for them.  If that doesn't work then they start to complain to other co-workers about their problem hoping to gain support, possibly that the supervisor will then do something.

What we need to realize is if we are complaining all of the time about a difficult co-worker, then we may begin to look like the "difficult co-worker" ourselves, meaning that we are unable to get along with others and this could be career-damaging. When having problems with difficult co-workers that you have tried to work out, and have examined yourself and know it is not you, then go to your superiors to let them know of the situation.  Tell them what you have done to try to resolve the problem and ask for insight and guidance.

Do not go to them complaining.  Ask for advice on how you might be able to handle the situation better.  This is a professional approach, one that your superiors will respect you for.  You are soliciting help with the situation, not complaining about it. Work relationships are not always easy, but you don't want to hurt your career by not being able to handle them professionally.  Do not allow a “people problem” to taint your work reputation and potentially be the cause of others losing respect for you by handling the situation poorly.

Be an example of how to handle difficult situations with your coworkers, you will gain their respect instead of possibly losing it.

Tina DelBuono is a Practice Management Coach – mentoring doctors to manage their practices effectively through membership in the Top Practices Practice Management Institute. For more information, email us at [email protected] or call us at (717) 725-2679. 

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