Monday, 27 June 2011


Workplaces are indeed one of the most important places we find ourselves almost every day in our work life, and as important as our workplaces are, so also are the rising challenges we face almost on a daily basis. It is not uncommon that we tend to complain about the stress that comes with our jobs and to add to that are personal attitudes of colleagues that do not add to the quality of our day at work.

Dealing with difficult colleagues on a daily basis can be extremely trying and frustrating, but mostly, the resolve lies with us without knowing. One thing that is usually certain is that when for any reason you begin to have regular difficulties in dealing with a colleague at work, you want a change to that, and to bring about the change, you need to find a way to identify what the problem is and then strive for a way to resolve the problem. However, most times, when problems arise between colleagues, it may not be very easy to find such solutions as quickly as expected because such difficult colleague may not be willing to look out for solutions as you do, so, you may want to look within and see how you can influence the necessary change through working on yourself, learning to understand the person, accommodating the difficult person, trying other collaborative efforts to ensure cooperation or other stiff practices on how to go through tough situations with peace and grace.

There are different reasons we tend to brand some colleagues ‘difficult’;   but considering the inadequacies of human nature, it is always important to examine other factors connected to the situation or colleagues being tagged as difficult. Sometimes, problems arise simply because we do not agree on some set of rules, beliefs or values that do not necessarily have anything to do with the work itself and because your perspective greatly influences your responses, you may need to review your perspective on such issues as they do not directly affect the work you both do. For instance, a colleague who regularly chews gum at work may become increasingly annoying or irritating to you because you do not value such habits and to some extent this could begin to cause some friction between you, but if you simply ignore it, try mind your business, though not necessarily needing to like the habit, both of you may come to know some peace, because sometimes trying to change a colleague’s personality or attitudes often don’t generate the kind of effect expected. However, you could politely speak to your colleague about the habit if there is room for that and if it changes things then the better, otherwise just leave things as they are and get something else to get your attention off such habit you don’t like about your colleague, so that it doesn’t generate into a real big issue, especially when it does not directly affect your productivity and efficiency at work, and particularly if it doesn’t even affect other people.   

In general, People tend to be difficult when they are not sure of the mutual benefits in a collaborative effort, particularly when it has to do with team work; so, you need to be open and to always let everyone know what’s in it for them and not just you reaping the entire bonus.

In contrast to that, if the source of the problem is anything to do with your efficiency, performance or convenience at work and other related matters, then you would have to be firm and assertive in regards to seeing things change for the better.  In cases where the problem between you and a colleague does affect your performance, then there is a need for a good conversation. Don’t leave minor problems unattended otherwise; they will grow into major stress. It’s good to have simple and honest conversation about the problems before it all escalates.

Most of the time, it is of great importance to have one to one conversation with a colleague whose attitude confronts your performance or progress. In a case where you sense bullying or behaviours that intentionally undermine your abilities, there are needs for a clear-cut action, because there is a clear recognition of what acceptable behaviour is and what is not. Any negative behaviour that undermines, threatens, deliberately offends or humiliates is bullying and apart from that, when you begin to feel nervous about work simply because of a workmate, it generally affects your well being and may spread to other aspects of your life.

As earlier stated, even when the problem is largely work related, seeking resolve in a polite and professional manner produces better results.

You will have to ensure that you control your temper, don’t become a nuisance disrupting public peace, be in charge of your responses and don’t get carried away to prevent over reacting. Make conscious choices about how you will respond, whether you get what you want or not so that there will be room for a problem-solving environment that will incorporate everyone’s needs, values, and perspectives.

If you go about solving the problem with open minds, you will find out that even the most irritating and vociferous work mates are the best to have on the team, provided you deal properly with them. You could turn their hidden talents into assets for everyone. You must know that every employee/colleague is a valuable asset, whatever they are like.

Other tips for dealing with difficult work colleagues include;

Build Relationships:
All you need to do is to establish cordial work relationship with your co-workers by simply talking to people. Do not make yourself an island at work. Listen to people. Spend time with them and show you all belong together as colleagues.

Focus on Outcomes:
You have goals and visions for yourself as an employee and whilst you are working towards these, you are able to take really objective positions which mould your attitude and personality. Working with a 'difficult person' is challenging, but focus on where you are going, not the personal issues you face.

Be Open:

Being open to other people’s situation, personalities often allow for greater tolerance and it fosters warm relationship amongst colleagues. Manage your internal judging voice and Seek to understand `difficult people’ quite clearly. Being judgemental will not allow you reason properly because our judgements if given the chance sometimes becloud honest reasoning.

Often, difficult people needs attention, and they need you to agree with them, you may need not to, in order to get rid of them for instance when someone regularly bores you with dirty gossips, undue complaints about work, or unflinching intimidation. Other times, giving them the attention they need by seeking their input and making them feel important to work decision, when they exhibit traits of someone being resented, unappreciated or unimportant and thereby becoming increasingly unpleasant may be the only trick you need.

Dealing with difficult people needs working on you, your patience, persistence, endurance and professionalism, but the effort will always worth the final outcome.

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