How to deal with difficult co-workers
All jobs, even if you are self-employed, require some form of social interaction. Some such interactions are only temporary as in the case of the employee/customer relationship. Co-Workers, however, can end up spending a huge part of their days together. It is essential to a successful work environment that all employees manage to co-exist. In a perfect world, everyone would be friendly and there would never be need for drama. However, we live and work in an imperfect society and there will be situations when a co-worker can cause you undue strife.
So what can you do about it?
You may not be able to fight them head on, but that does not mean you should have to sit back and do absolutely nothing. The key lesson here is «passive resistance» also known as «being the bigger man» (or woman).
If your co-worker is making you angry, but it in no way affects the workplace overall, the best thing you can do is also the simplest — ignore them completely. While at first this may feel like backing down, but if they are trying to frustrate you this takes away their power completely.
Be direct, but kind
If you should find that simple silence is not doing the trick, do not immediately run to your supervisor. Being too quick to complain instead of handling the problem yourself can make you appear weak in terms of leadership. Now is the time for more direct confrontation. Remember though, no fighting. You have to let your co-worker know (gently) what is on your mind. Be specific, firm and fair. If it’s not something they do all the time be sure to say so. Many people have trouble with this step, either because anger takes over or they become nervous and back down, but it is necessary if you truly wish to improve your work environment.
Speak to your immediate supervisor
Once you’ve given talking a try then should you consider bringing the problem to your immediate supervisor. Before you do though, make sure you are properly prepared. Know exactly what you are going to say before you step foot in that office and be prepared to answer questions. Stick to the facts. It will do you no good to exaggerate as other co-workers will be able to confirm or deny your story.
Go to the Top
If your immediate supervisor isn’t able to help you with your problem it may be necessary to go straight to the top of your chain of command. In some cases this person (or group) may not work directly with you. In fact, you may have never met them before if they work on a district or corporate level. Do not take your problem to this level unless you have exhausted all other options first. If this level of management decides you are making a fuss for no reason it could very well cost you your job.
When all else fails…leave
Don’t allow yourself to become too upset if you file a complaint and nothing is done. Remember that managements main concern is always going to be the «bottom line» and they will do what is best for the business itself. If you have reached this point you are left with one of two options. You can either decide to live with the problem or you can search out better employment opportunities. If you do decide to move on, be sure to do so properly and respectfully. There is no need to ruin a potential reference after all.