Dealing with Difficult Colleagues

Do you sometimes find the workplace difficult? The chances are that the source of the difficulty is a colleague. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with your colleagues (let’s think positive, after all) but in any situation with a number of very different people (and we are all different) all trying to achieve a single goal there is bound to be some friction sooner or later.

So what form might this ‘difficulty’ take? Maybe it’s a disagreement over strategy, or someone is blaming you for a mistake, or somebody promised you more than they can deliver or maybe it’s just someone who is always late for a regular meeting. It could be something very trivial but we often see it as ‘difficult’ behaviour because of how it makes us feel: undermined, annoyed, put-upon, frustrated or let down. In the modern, pressured workplace such feelings can take on great significance and start to erode our job satisfaction. However, let’s look at this more positively. After all, such ‘difficulties’ are inevitable, it is how we deal with them that counts…

Here are a few questions to ask yourself (in no particular order) the next time you are faced with a difficult colleague:

  • Does it matter? Is this issue really worth your time and energy? If it isn’t then don’t get bogged down, just move on to your next priority. If it is, then it’s worth the effort to resolve it properly.

  • Why might it be happening? Everything has a cause. You may never know what that cause is, but if you assume that there is a good reason for the behaviour then you stand a better chance of keeping your cool when you’re feeling frustrated, annoyed, put-upon, etc.

  • Have you explained your position? Can you calmly and objectively tell them what they are doing and the impact it is having on you? They may not have realised the consequences of their actions.

  • Have you asked about theirs? They may not want to tell you but at least you are giving them the opportunity.

  • Have you clearly defined the problem? Is it really their lateness or does your annoyance stem from other issues?

  • Is there any common ground? If you talk it through you may find you both want the same thing (more sales, reduced costs, etc.) Anything in common is a good starting point to resolving the conflict.

  • Can you both have what you want? If you assume that you can and then try to find a way to make it happen you’re more likely to be successful (in other words, think positive!)

  • If not, where is the acceptable compromise? What could you both give up and still feel fairly treated?

The problem is that we can fall into very repetitive patterns of behaviour with our colleagues and sometimes it is hard to see where it started. However, without taking a positive step to change the pattern it is unlikely to end. By asking yourself a few questions and then talking honestly (and calmly!) with your colleague, you could break that pattern.

About the Author: Dr. Antonio Marsocci is a successful, international life and business coach, member of the Association for Coaching. If you want to discover how to get greater returns, create greater profits, help you develop your team, help you rediscover your passion, help you navigate changes in the economy and your market, find out more at : =>

View all contributions by

Search Engine Specialist - 12 year veteran SEO with multiple top 20 ComScore properties publishing experience. Enterprise level across international, mobile, and social media spheres. Advisor to startups for pre-launch optimization and ongoing SEO consulting.

Comments on this entry are closed.