5 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Co-Worker

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Even if you’re lucky enough to work at your dream job, a difficult co-worker can make it seem like a nightmare. All sorts of characters make up loathsome co-workers: from micromanaging A-types to brown-nosers to slackers. Instead of thinking that your life and sanity would improve if the person just left, a May 2012 article in “Forbes” advises that learning to deal with a difficult co-worker can actually help you grow professionally.

5 Talk to Someone

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When a co-worker is so toxic that she’s affecting your work, it may be time to talk (not gossip) to someone about your problem. This person could be a co-worker that you trust, your manager or someone in the human resources department. Just don’t look for someone who will automatically be on your side. After talking to someone, you may learn that your attitude is just as bad as your co-worker’s, and you need to work on your teamwork skills. On the other hand, you may help management learn about a hostile worker of which they weren’t aware.

4 Be Helpful

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Sometimes co-workers are difficult, frazzled or downright rude because they feel scared or stressed. Instead of using the emotion to do good work, they put up a wall, get anal and make enemies instead of allies. Show your co-worker that you accept him for who he is and respect him professionally. If it’s appropriate, offer to lend a hand or a non-judgmental ear.

3 Set Boundaries

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If you are a people pleaser, stop it. In the end, people will treat you as well as you let them. When you have a co-worker who leans on you too much, tell her what you can take on and what she’s going to have to figure out on her own. Then do your best to not buy into any guilt trips. If needed, set boundaries about how your co-worker treats you, too. For example, if she belittles you, tell her that her remarks are disrespectful, unnecessary and unhelpful.

2 Anticipate Conflict and Be Assertive

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Some people have hostile attitudes. Maybe they have poor communication skills or they’re just angry with the world. Either way, don’t take a bad attitude personally and don’t be afraid to tackle the storm of negativity head-on. When you anticipate conflict, you hold your ground and fight low blows and immaturity with facts and professionalism. Be self-confident. Don’t be afraid to be direct and honest with a difficult co-worker. If he has a problem with what you say, it’s his problem, not yours.

1 Don’t Fuel the Fire

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It’s sometimes seems simpler to play dirty with a difficult co-worker and make snarky statements than to practice patience. According to Aftermarket.org, some hostile people thrive on controversy and welcome your debates or unnecessary remarks so they have another reason to make your life as miserable as theirs. Instead of playing along, practice kindness. Doing so will wear down your co-worker to the point that she finds arguing with you too frustrating or boring.

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