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Ah, the Drama Queen. The Backstabber. The Suck Up. The Prima Donna: All well-known “difficult” co-workers.

Every company has them. No matter how big or how small is the firm at which you work, you’re going to have to deal with these folks at some point in your career, either as colleagues, subordinates┬á — or even your supervisors

Here are some tips to help you deal with difficult co-workers.

If the person’s behavior is starting to affect either your enjoyment of your work or your ability to do a good job, it’s time to speak with the person. You should do so in private. When you’re meeting with the person, be sure you speak in a calm, objective and collaborative manner. Start slowly and gently — you just might find that your difficult co-worker has noticed how bad your relationship has become and he or she may want to improve it just as much as you do.

You should start the conversation by saying something like “It looks as if we have our differences and I’d like to work with you on improving our working relationship. Can we work together on this? Is there anything I can do that will help us get along?”

Then listen — really listen — to what the person has to say. Repeat back what you’ve just heard (in your own words) to double check with your colleague that that truly is what he or she meant to say.

If it appears your co-worker has nothing to contribute, you can offer a suggestion, but remember to do so in a collaborative way. Stay objective.

Here’s a way you might start:

“When we’re in a meeting and I’m talking and then you interrupt to make comments before I’m finished, it’s very distracting to me. I find it hard to concentrate on what you’re saying when I’m distracted.”
Even if you can’t settle on a solution to your problem together right away, that’s OK because the two of you are headed in the right direction. It sometimes can take considerable time until a relationship is completely even-keeled, but even a slight improvement is a positive step.

If you feel your co-worker is refusing to cooperate with you, aim to cooperate yourself. That is, try to find something you can like about the person, and comment on it in a positive way. People naturally like it when others like them, and finding something to like/comment positively upon — no matter how small — can start the person walking along the path of cooperation with you.

If you’re in the market for a great new job — and new coworkers! — bring your resume to Winston Resources. We can help you move your career in a new direction with some of New York City’s best employers. Contact us today!


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