How to Deal With Problem Coworkers
By Sara Sheridan

We all have that one coworker who just grinds our gears – in a situation where so many different personalities are in the same place, it’s normal not to get along with everyone. However, mastering the art of dealing with frustrating coworkers can be incredibly helpful when you’re trying to work your way up the career ladder. Getting past a difficult situation with a coworker and being productive is a great way to show upper management that you’re ready for more responsibility – plus it just makes your day-to-day at work a little bit easier. Here are some of the best strategies to use when dealing with frustrating coworkers.

Ask for clarification

A lot of workplace conflict stems from misunderstanding, and one of the best ways to avoid it is to get in the habit of asking for plenty of details and clarification. There are a variety of challenging situations where this can be very helpful. For example, if you have a superior that is very demanding, asking for more details about how to complete projects successfully will help you feel more in control. This can also be helpful when dealing with coworkers who are always complaining. Asking them for more details about what’s wrong can either help you two work together to solve the problem, or will help them realize that they don’t have that much to complain about after all.

Stay neutral and avoid gossip

It can be tempting to want to talk badly about a coworker that drives you crazy, but it’s important to resist the temptation. This could cause conflict later on that’s going to make it hard to be productive. If you need to vent, try talking to a friend outside the company who doesn’t know any of your coworkers, or even talking to your therapist about it if you have one. This way, you can get all of your frustration out without making things harder for you at work.

It’s also important to avoid engaging with other people who like to gossip. Many workplaces have at least one person who likes to stir up trouble by talking about others behind their back.

Even if you like them, it’s important not to chime in when they start to talk about others, because you never know what’s going to get back around to other people. A good way to deal with this is just to pretend you don’t have an opinion if a coworker asks you what you think about something juicy.

Stay organized with your projects

Not only will good organizational strategies help you be more personally productive at work, but they can also help combat another common work problem – coworkers trying to take credit for things that you’ve done. When you are very organized with your calendar and your communications, it will be much easier for you to prove to your superiors who contributed what. Keeping a strict schedule will also prevent other people from drawing you into their projects when you’re feeling overwhelmed. While there are times when you may need to help someone else out on a project, there are some coworkers that take too much advantage of other people’s kindness. If you plan out your day with meetings and projects ahead of time, you have an easy excuse for when the office mooch needs a little bit of help.

Know how to identify a bully

While there are many office coworkers who are annoying, there are also some that are downright mean – and this can make for an incredibly difficult work environment. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t always stop when you leave school. You might encounter coworkers that make mean and insulting comments or try to intimidate you when you are at work. If this is happening to you, you don’t need to put up with this kind of treatment – but it’s important to be careful with how you handle it so that you don’t experience retailation. In many cases, you will need to bring in a third party, like HR. Start keeping track of the times when they do something aggressive, intimidating, or mean, so that HR can help you with the solution. Be sure to follow all of your office’s policies and procedures regarding communication with HR.

Dealing with problem coworkers can be incredibly frustrating, and it’s important to remember that you’re not alone – everyone experiences tough days at work from time to time. With some practice, you can find a balance of communicating maturely while still standing up for your own best interests, and managing problem coworkers will get a little easier.

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