Social Wellbeing

5 Tips on How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

The dynamic personalities of an office setting can be very wide spread, leaving it hard to know how to deal with certain co-workers, like the difficult ones. Consider these 5 strategies to make your office interactions more bearable.

The Challenge

Use the tactics below to try and shift your mindset, empathize with a co-worker, or give yourself peace-of-mind when dealing with those difficult co-workers on a regular basis. Take it a step further and have a face-to-face conversation with them.


There are some people who are simply difficult to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s because they are sensitive, quick to get angry, or are socially unable to connect with you - learning how to deal with your co-workers who are difficult will make your day-to-day go smoother.

Emotional Intelligence

Sometimes people’s emotions are far beyond our own - meaning the way they react to certain situations is not always how you would. When dealing with a difficult co-worker, try to put yourself in their shoes. Why are they acting like that? It could be stress or they’re feeling ill or it is simply just who they are. Empathize with your co-worker! Statements such as “I can understand why you feel that way” can go very far. You do not have to agree, but it is okay to validate their feelings. At the end of the day, everyone has a right to their feelings.

This does not mean you have to be their therapist. It is about learning to understand them; this makes it easier to navigate through their difficult behaviors or simply not let yourself get frustrated by them. Once you learn about the person, you will be able to navigate interactions and conversations with them more easily.

Don’t Take It Personal

Chances are your difficult co-worker is making it difficult for others. Don’t make it about you and don’t make it about others either. It can be hard, but give people the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know what is happening in their lives or if their actions are truly directed towards you. Brush it off and focus on your tasks at hand.

Talk It Out

If your co-workers’ behaviors are affecting your work or making it hard to work as a team, have an old fashioned face to face talk. Do not start by pointing the finger. Start by addressing your concerns, how they affect you, and ask them how you can work better together.

Plan out your conversation to make sure that you are not coming off too harsh. Most of the time people are very open to these types of conversations. Nobody wants to be miserable at work and nobody wants to be the one making others’ lives miserable. Having this conversation helps you get a better insight on what is making them so difficult and how you can work better.

Avoid Office Gossip

Avoid the office gossip about your difficult co-worker. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of the negative conversations. In fact, this is exactly how you make it worse. Working towards understanding them avoids the need to gossip about them because you know the WHY. Steer others in the right direction as well.

Move On

Holding on to the actions of difficult co-workers will only lead to more frustrations and resentment. Similar to not expressing your emotions, one day you’re going to release it all and it won’t be pretty. To avoid that, let it go. You have 100 other things that you can be focusing on, including being awesome, and your co-worker does not have to be one of them. 

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