3 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Coworker

Working alongside your coworkers can have advantages and disadvantages. Any time humans are thrust into a working environment their personality strengths and weaknesses become apparent. Sometimes there are difficulties getting along with a coworker.

It can be frustrating when you can’t connect with a coworker. It really does make the workplace more tolerable. Chances are you have to deal with this coworker everyday or frequently enough that you feel affected by the relationship, or lack thereof.

You aren’t expected to be friends with any of your coworkers, but being friendly with them is a form of professionalism. You may not synch with everyone, but if there’s someone who just doesn’t seem to like you, here are 3 ways to deal with a coworker who doesn’t like you:

1. Focus on work.

This literally is the single best action you can take when dealing with a colleague who is difficult. When you focus on the job, you aren’t able to devote energy to whatever is pulling you away from your work. Be professional, be respectful and align your thoughts with how you can be productive despite a tense work environment. Don’t be brought down by a passive-aggressive or hostile coworker, especially when there is work to be done.

2. Be honest with yourself.

It’s quite possible you offended the person or did something that influenced their opinion of you. No one wants to admit that they did something wrong, but accepting your mistakes is a great first step towards resolving workplace conflict. On the other side, though, be honest with yourself if you haven’t done anything to upset the difficult coworker. Don’t try to convince yourself that this is your fault.

3. Talk to them.

There are some people who will not like you. This is just a part of life. You don’t have to put up with negative or hostile environments, so try communicating with the coworker. Maybe there was a misunderstanding or perhaps the person just isn’t friendly, but if you speak with them, at least you know you did your best to lighten the situation. Don’t just talk either, but listen to what they are saying so that they feel heard.

Try to find something in common with your coworkers, but if that one difficult coworker doesn’t seem receptive, all you can do is be you. Sometimes these connections take time, so be patient if your difficult coworker doesn’t seem into you. Focus on yourself and your tasks, and the rest will fall into place.

Work should be a comfortable place where people can freely and responsibly communicate with coworkers. Ideally, employees will be able to go to their supervisor if there truly is conflict with a coworker. This would likely be a last resort, and it’s not always necessary. But, if it gets to that point, try to remain factual with calm reactions. Don’t approach the situation in a negative way, but show your eagerness to remedy the conflict. There’s no reason why you should feel awkward at work. You’re there to do a job and teamwork is essential to accomplishing shared goals.