The owner of a management consulting company in Boca Raton, Fl., Dr. Amy Cooper Hakim spends her days coaching people to develop better workplace relationships. But you don’t have to travel to Florida to benefit from Hakim’s knowledge.
Hakim generously agreed to give us a crash course on dealing with crabby co-workers. So get comfy and keep reading.
You know you work with difficult people when …
He or she makes it tough for you to do your job. He or she may be be clingy, interrupt you, gossip about you, steal your ideas, or act like a bully. It’s not only in your head!
These things make the situation worse:
- Getting involved in (or sucked into) his or her drama
- Fighting like a school kid
- Yelling at or demeaning the coworker
- Spreading gossip about him or her
Telltale signs of a difficult co-worker:
He or she is clingy, interrupts you, gossips about you, steals your ideas, acts like a bully.
Work with difficult people — And be OK
If a co-worker constantly interrupts you when you are trying to get your work done, physically stand up when he comes into your office. That sends a clear message that you are not available. If he still wants to chat, smile and say, “I’m slammed. I can’t take a break until I finish this project.”
A one-on-one chat is preferred when …
You have to work closely with this colleague every day. Smile and use a kind tone to soften the blow of a tough message.
Try these lines:
“In order for me to be most successful, I need…” or “I really struggle to get my work done when…”
Tell your manager or HR if the colleague is disrespectful, deceptive, or caustic.
Never leave a job because of nasty co-workers unless you do not have a supportive boss, and if the co-worker’s difficult behavior impacts you emotionally or affects your work quality or output.
You might be the one being difficult
Pay attention to your colleagues’ reactions. Do they speak in hushed tones around you? Do they appear frustrated when paired with you on a project? If yes, ask one colleague who you respect for his or her honest opinion and advice.
SNACK ON THIS:
Before confronting a difficult co-worker, have a practice session at home. If possible, role-play with a loved one. Your colleague will take you more seriously if you look him or her in the eye while confidently sharing a well-rehearsed message.