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Office Etiquette: How To Cope With Difficult Relationships
By the time we graduate college and start our professional lives, we have plenty of experience with difficult people: that one friend in grade school who was needy and controlling all through 4th grade, the girl in high school who always had to outshine you in everything you did, or that lab partner in college who never showed up on time and always use you for your hard work. We would naively tell ourselves that maybe once we entered the professional climate that we wouldn’t have to deal with these people any longer.
People usually grow up and grow out of their annoying, needy, and lazy habits, right?
Well, this isn’t always the case. There are always going to be difficult people that you have to work with and butting heads with coworkers is going to happen. With the stress of your outside life and your career, dealing with a difficult work relationship can be extremely challenging. Luckily, solutions are available and reachable.

Try these simple ways to cope with difficult relationships at work.

Talk with Your Colleague:

Okay, I realize that this “tip” doesn’t seem like much of a tip, but it really is useful advice. Even adults have trouble confronting their issues. Whether you are annoyed with a coworker for slacking off on their end of the job or your colleague is particularly negative and inappropriate, it is always best to approach that person about the issue first. In a social environment (especially one like a competitive workplace), it can be easy to take your issues with a person to others in the office. No matter how you put it, this is gossip.
While office gossip is bound to happen to some degree, it is definitely not the best way to manage an issue with a colleague. Chances are if you approach your annoying or frustrating coworker about your concerns in a mature and honest way, things can be resolved to some degree. Your boss or supervisor will appreciate that you tried to resolve the issue on your own initiative. It is also important, however, to know when it is time to consult your supervisor or human resources department. Give your coworker a chance to really understand that there is an issue. Strong communication is key to a healthy and productive work environment.

Deflect and Redirect:

For those coworkers who have to make things more difficult, say critical things about others in the office, or continually slack off on the job, try to find ways to deflect their negatives and redirect them to positives. For the coworker who latches on to you for a complaining session that isn’t exactly welcome, never participate and try to redirect the conversation to something more productive. For coworkers who are lazy, try to take initiative with them and get them inspired. Getting involved and taking control of the situation will shine strongly upon your leadership abilities. Do your best to maintain a sense of humor about things.
Any situation can become easier if you are willing to laugh about it a little. Moreover, finding some level of entertainment in your obnoxious coworkers complaining could be a positive thing for your daily grind. Remain positive and try to reflect that positivity to your troublesome coworker. No use in letting someone else’s negativity get the best of you and your work.

Develop a Support Network:

There is nothing more difficult than going to work everyday in a negative or hostile environment. Unfortunately, difficult relationships with coworkers can make getting through your day and completing your work an excruciating task. Working in a negative environment doesn’t encourage your best work.

[Related Post: 4 Simple Ways to Counterbalance Negativity]

One  of the best ways to combat negativity at work is to develop a support network at work. Try to surround yourself by positive influences and build a network of friends. If this isn’t an option in your workplace, be sure to find a support network outside of the office. This way, you have people who can inspire you to do your best work and ignore the negativity that work may ignite. A support network is a great way to cope with a rough time in the office. While this doesn’t exactly solve any issues with specific coworkers, positivity can help you cope with difficult colleagues, which can sometimes be your only option.

Readers: How do you handle difficult relationships at work?

I hope that you aren’t dealing with difficult relationships at work. But if you are, this post will help you navigate your interactions while still being professional and classy. This guest post is contributed by Patricia Garza, who writes about gadget, technology, design, social media and e-learning related articles. 

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