Today’s post is written by Erin Palmer, a writer and editor for Bisk Education, a company that works with top-ranked universities such as Villanova University’s PHR certification prep course. Erin can be reached on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.
They come in many forms. The One-Upper always has an accomplishment that is better than yours. The Patronizer manages to make every statement sound condescending. The Interrupter always talks over you in a much louder voice. Difficult coworkers come in all forms, from The Kiss-Up to The Bad Team Player. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid working with challenging personalities. It’s up to you to figure out how to work well with your colleagues, even when they are giving you a headache. Here are some tips to help you keep it classy the next time you are faced with difficult co-workers:
- Analyze the problem. In order to make the most out of a bad situation, you have to first figure out what’s wrong. Pinpoint what is bothering you about your peer, and then brainstorm ways to improve the situation. Each personality type will require a different coping technique. For example, you might need to be especially calm with The Short Fuse but really upbeat with The Debbie Downer. Understanding the problem is the only way to come up with a solution.
- Don’t let annoyances get to you. Of course you are going to get frustrated when The Forgetter asks you a question that you have answered 45 times already. It may be tempting to spend your lunch break wallpapering Post-Its of your response on The Forgetter’s cubicle wall, but there is a better way to handle it. Acting on your emotions can lead to a world of regret. Instead, channel your frustrations into a constructive solution. Try responding to the question verbally and following up with an email. This way The Forgetter can refer back to the email instead of asking you again, and you can avoid the desire to yell.
- Know when to speak up. Keeping it classy does not mean you can’t address the problem directly. In fact, certain issues will require a straightforward approach. Learn when you can be subtle and when it’s time to speak up. If a coworker takes credit for one of your ideas, subtlety could work. However, if The Thief constantly steals your ideas, your credit and your clients, it is best to approach the problem head-on.
- Inspect yourself. Sometimes a glance in the mirror is all it takes to solve a problem. Stop and consider how you are feeling before directing your frustration. If you are stressed out about a project, you might unintentionally project your anger onto your coworkers. Scrutinizing yourself first can help lessen your irritation at your peers.
- Keep up the good work. At the end of the day, you should be able to take solace in a job well done. Even the most obnoxious encounter with a coworker will not change your successes. In fact, being able to work well with difficult people is a success within itself. Remember, you are probably not the only person who notices The Troublemaker. Being able to deal with challenging personalities shows your superiors that you can overcome any obstacle. Handling problem employees with class will only serve you well. After all, you might be their boss someday!