HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT COWORKERS: Handling Difficult Staff Colleagues

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Table of Contents Hide
  1. How to deal with difficult coworkers
    1. #1. Practice speaking your mind.
    2. #2. Learn about their viewpoint.
    3. #3. Pay attention to your wholesome connections.
    4. #4. Speak with your manager.
    5. #5. Accept their character.
    6. #6. Be impartial at work.
    7. #7. Be cautious about how you interact.
    8. #8. Improve your character.
    9. #9. Recognize your stress areas.
    10. #10. Pay attention to the good.
    11. #11. Consider your own conduct.
    12. #12. Exhibit sympathy.
    13. The importance of knowing how to deal with difficult coworkers
  2. Types of Difficult Coworkers
    1. #1. Slacker
    2. #2. Credit Taker
    3. #3. Complainer
    4. #4. Knowledgeable One
    5. #5. Gossip in the Workplace
  3. Communicating With Difficult Coworkers
    1. #1. Examine Your Own Actions.
    2. #2. Don’t Make it Personal.
    3. #3. Learn How to Deal with a Variety of Personalities.
    4. #4. Don’t Succumb to the Temptation to Engage in Unprofessional Conduct.
    5. #5. Remind Yourself of the Power of Teamwork.
    6. #6. Time and Location
    7. #7. Work on Your Empathy
    8. #8. Pose a Challenging Query.
    9. #9. Limit Your Interactions if Necessary.
    10. #10. In Order to Move Forward Together, you Must Devise a Mutual Strategy.
    11. #11. Request Help From Your Management.
  4. How to Train Difficult Coworkers
    1. #1. Know their background
    2. #2. Statement of purpose
    3. #3. Display the final product first
    4. #4. Make a Plan of Action
    5. #5. Use the “Show It Method.”
    6. #6. Live it Out.
  5. What Are Signs of Disrespect at Work?
  6. What to Do When You Feel Disrespected at Work?
  7. Why Good Employees Quit?
  8. How Do You Expose a Toxic Person at Work?
  9. How Do You Tell a Colleague to Back Off?
  10. How Do You Respond to a Toxic Coworker?
  11. How Do You Handle a Difficult Work Colleague?
  12. Conclusion
  13. Related Articles

In every organization, there are always some employees that you just don’t get along with due to their personalities and the way they handle things. However, there are certain ways to handle these kinds of people to enable you to have the right attitude towards them and the organization you work for. This guide will help you achieve that, as we look into how to communicate and deal with difficult coworkers, get to know their types, and lastly, how to train them for the benefit of every employee and the organization. 

We will start with how to deal with your difficult coworkers, to their different types, before knowing how to communicate with them. Let’s fly!

How to deal with difficult coworkers

Use these 12 steps to deal with difficult coworkers:

#1. Practice speaking your mind.

It might be time to address the issue if your coworker is making it difficult for you to feel at ease at work. Use “I” language to describe how they make you feel so they can grasp your point of view. Using the pronoun “you” may make it difficult for coworkers to take ownership of their actions when you decide to deal with them.

#2. Learn about their viewpoint.

It might often be simpler to get along with difficult coworkers if you understand their viewpoint. You may come to understand that a person’s history and life experiences have an impact on their conduct and worldview after getting to know them better. This knowledge may help you comprehend their perspective, even though you deserve to be treated with respect.

#3. Pay attention to your wholesome connections.

If you want to avoid concentrating on them, focus on the people you like being around instead of this coworker. Make an attempt to establish a good working relationship with your other employees. You can feel happy at work if you have casual discussions throughout the day with positive people. Think about inviting a favorite coworker to an enjoyable activity away from the office.

#4. Speak with your manager.

When this person starts violating corporate rules or starts having a detrimental impact on your work, it might be time to raise the matter with your supervisor or the human resources division. So that you have evidence of what this coworker has been doing, note their negative behaviors. You should be able to feel comfortable and respected at work if this issue can be resolved by your supervisor or the human resources department.

#5. Accept their character.

This coworker might not be acting improperly, but you might not like their demeanor. This happens frequently in life when you meet people you like and those you want to stay away from. Recognize that you must get along with this individual. Find aspects of their personality that you like, and give them a chance to shine.

#6. Be impartial at work.

Keep your ideas to yourself if other coworkers are discussing this person. By remaining impartial, you may contribute to preserving a supportive working environment for everyone. If you must discuss this person, do so with a friend or member of your family who is unrelated to your workplace. Keep your conversation about others’ good qualities at work.

#7. Be cautious about how you interact.

You could find it easier to deal with the problem if you limit the time you spend with this coworker. You might discover that you can manage them in moderation. Keeping company with friendly and inspiring coworkers over lunch or in meetings. Limiting your interactions should be done subtly so as to respect their feelings.

#8. Improve your character.

To deal with your difficult coworkers, you must possess the ability to be a better person, despite the fact that this individual behaves impertinently. You’re demonstrating that you are the more responsible person in this scenario by continuing to be polite and respectful to other people. Instead of involving other coworkers in these types of disagreements, it is preferable to resolve them alone.

#9. Recognize your stress areas.

Analyze which of their habits you consider the most challenging. This will enable you to leave the situation as soon as they start to display these behaviors. This method can assist you in maintaining composure while working. Concentrate on focusing your passion and energy on the things that truly matter.

#10. Pay attention to the good.

Even though it can be simple to concentrate on this coworker, focus on the aspects of your job that you enjoy. This could be your fellow coworkers, the task you actually do, or the benefits of your position. This one difficult aspect of your life may appear less significant if you are thankful for the positive aspects of it.

#11. Consider your own conduct.

Consider your behavior toward this coworker as you consider them. It’s possible that both of you have created a behavior feedback loop. For a change, try to treat them kindly for a change and be the one to end this cycle. You might discover that they return the favor, and you can both go forward.

#12. Exhibit sympathy.

Everyone deals with their own issues, which may account for how your coworker behaves. As you get to know this individual better, make an effort to be kind and empathic. You might discover that you would do similarly if you were in their shoes.

The importance of knowing how to deal with difficult coworkers

The ability to deal with your difficult coworkers is a crucial life skill. Even though you may get along well with most of the coworkers you work with, you should be able to deal with those who are difficult. Learning conflict management techniques can make a more harmonious workplace easier. You might start concentrating more on yourself and the people you like when you learn to accept or confront their habits.

Knowing the types of difficult coworkers is vital information an employee needs to know. Read on to know their different types.

Types of Difficult Coworkers

The following are the types of difficult coworkers. You might not have all of them on your team, but you must see some of them. 

#1. Slacker

Everyone has a “slacker” who does the smallest amount of real work while you’re striving to maintain your energy in the game. The first thing to consider is whether or not their actions have an effect on you. It may not be a problem if it’s not preventing you from completing your job or generating high-quality work. However, as one of the types of difficult coworkers to work with, if your productivity or the company’s as a whole is suffering as a result of this unpleasant coworker, it’s time to intervene.

#2. Credit Taker

This is one of the types of difficult coworkers we can work with in our working places. Taking credit for someone else’s effort is one of the most frustrating things that may happen. People that are difficult to work with thrive in the limelight and appreciate taking credit for the accomplishments of others, frequently as a way to make up for their own lack of self-confidence.

#3. Complainer

As humans we are, it’s okay to vent a few of our frustrations in order to clear our heads. However, working with a complainer is tiresome. Instead of looking for answers, they dwell on the bad and hunt for issues. Having an unpleasant coworker can have a negative impact on the entire group’s spirit.

#4. Knowledgeable One

You’ve seen them before. This is one of the types of difficult coworkers who monopolize discussions, dismiss input from everyone else, and makes judgments without taking into account all the facts. This is one of the types of difficult coworkers who tend to be authoritarian, uninterested in others, and have a “that’s the way I do things” mentality.

#5. Gossip in the Workplace

In the worst-case scenario, gossip can be harmful and create a hostile and resentful work environment. Gossipers are the ones that usually seem to have the most up-to-date information about everyone. Gossips thrive on controversy, but their stoking of false rumors may be harmful to a business as a whole.

Communicating With Difficult Coworkers

It’s true that working with a difficult colleague is no fun. But there are methods you can implement, and you’ll see yourself communicating with your difficult coworkers the way you should. 

#1. Examine Your Own Actions.

Oftentimes, we detest individuals without checking if we are the problem. This is not easy to admit, but these are the things to check while communicating with our difficult coworkers and to help us and as well. Another reason could be that they remind us of folks that have done not-so-good things in the past, such as a domineering sister or a skeptic neighbor. Recognizing that this coworker is a completely different person is the first step in dealing with this situation.

#2. Don’t Make it Personal.

In communicating with our difficult coworkers, resist the urge to take any office misunderstanding too personally, irrespective of your colleague’s actions. If you’re having problems, don’t be afraid to tell others about them. It’s possible that your coworker isn’t aware of the fact that their actions annoy you. Avoid accusatory or cruel language while communicating with your difficult coworkers about what’s bothering you.

#3. Learn How to Deal with a Variety of Personalities.

It’s sometimes possible to handle difficult colleagues by learning to deal with a variety of personalities. When it comes to work-life balance, some coworkers need a lot of social connections, while others prefer to keep the two separate. You and your organization will be more successful if you understand and embrace how your coworkers work. Importantly, in communicating with your difficult coworkers, ask them about their preferred methods of communication when you take a new job.

#4. Don’t Succumb to the Temptation to Engage in Unprofessional Conduct.

Do not engage in fights, unhealthy competition, or talking about each other; these are all detrimental behaviors. At all times, maintain a professional demeanor.

#5. Remind Yourself of the Power of Teamwork.

When working with a tough coworker, keep in mind the ways in which you might profit from their experience and expertise.

#6. Time and Location

Before communicating with your difficult coworkers, think about the best time and place to do it. After a particularly contentious meeting, having a conversation in the open corridor of the office is definitely not the best idea. Try arranging a private meeting. When dealing with coworkers who don’t handle arguments rationally, you’ll have a higher chance of a positive ending if you choose your unpleasant discussions carefully.

#7. Work on Your Empathy

Empathy is an important attribute in the business since it helps you get better results. Empathy is the ability to place oneself in another person’s place and understand their perspective.

#8. Pose a Challenging Query.

Is it just you who has a hard time with this person? Is this person finding it difficult to get along with you, too? You and your coworker will benefit from discussing these issues.

#9. Limit Your Interactions if Necessary.

The best course of action may be to discover strategies to minimize your communication if you have constantly brought up your trigger points and made special requests to the person. Is there anything you can do if you cannot completely avoid your interactions? In communicating with our difficult coworkers, interactions are vital.

#10. In Order to Move Forward Together, you Must Devise a Mutual Strategy.

If you don’t want to be in a permanent state of dispute with this unpleasant coworker, we suggest that you come up with a plan of action! Keep the dialogue going by asking how you two can fix it together, even if you’re joking around.

#11. Request Help From Your Management.

It’s not always possible to resolve a problem on your own. Your manager should be called upon at this point in order to help ease the strain. Do not contact your supervisor unless you have exhausted all other avenues.

Next to read is how to train your difficult coworkers.

How to Train Difficult Coworkers

Training difficult coworkers is a vigorous task anyone can embark on. However, the following are the steps you can adopt to train even the most difficult coworkers: 

#1. Know their background

Before you train your difficult coworkers, find out about their training, accreditation, education, health, and previous work experience. Depending on how much background detail you need to include, or how much of it you can exclude, this will help you determine whether or not you should include it all. To be able to deal with them effectively, you should familiarize yourself with their personality traits.

#2. Statement of purpose

You should identify yourself with your coworker and explain what you’ll be doing and why you’re doing it. Knowing why you want to train your difficult coworkers will help them identify which elements are critical and how they intend to put their new skills to use in the future. Give your audience a compelling cause to understand what you’ve got in store for them. The business and its consumers will benefit, but so will they, if they understand what you’re about to teach them.

#3. Display the final product first

Start by displaying them the final product, whether you’re teaching empathy or communication skills. Instead of giving folks the big-picture aim you had in mind, this focuses them on the specifics of the task at hand.

The way you interact with people, the way you communicate with them, and the way you work as a team can all serve as indicators. To train difficult coworkers, it’s important for you not to only say it or teach it, you should show it as well.

#4. Make a Plan of Action

Don’t blow it when it comes to your training. To avoid forgetting important tasks and confusing your coworker, design a step-by-step plan before you begin. Consider the order in which you and your teammates complete the task you’re demonstrating. Make a copy of those steps and provide it to your coworker as a written reference. Take notes whenever they ask a question so that you can include the answers in your next lecture.

#5. Use the “Show It Method.”

Consider asking a coworker how she would approach a particular step you are demonstrating. Then, ask her how she plans to get there. This is a great opportunity to explain your company’s procedures to her. It’s possible that your coworkers will come up with greater ideas than you do.

#6. Live it Out.

To ensure that your coworkers have grasped the concepts you’ve taught them, have them put what they’ve learned into action. To assist them to achieve this, they should establish a rule. Instead of just acting it out, do it in a way that helps them live it out.

What Are Signs of Disrespect at Work?

In the workplace, disrespect can take many forms, including those listed below. Admitting to gossip or fabrication. Making loud, threatening noises or using an angry tone of voice. Using foul language or making offensive remarks.

What to Do When You Feel Disrespected at Work?

Talk to human resources or your superiors if you feel disrespected on the job or that your workplace culture is lacking respect. They may be open to your concerns. Perhaps it is something that is important to your organization and management, but nobody is aware of it.

Why Good Employees Quit?

Although it may seem like a small issue, good employees frequently leave their jobs because they don’t feel valued or trusted. These unfavorable feelings can accumulate, whether they believe their supervisor or coworkers don’t appreciate them, and finally, lead them to decide to leave.

How Do You Expose a Toxic Person at Work?

Call out the behavior in private, and do not ignore it. If you are a manager, describe the person’s detrimental impact on the organization and request that they cease their toxic behavior. If they do, that’s terrific, but not all toxic employees are conscious of their negative behavior.

How Do You Tell a Colleague to Back Off?

Describe the circumstance in detail, indicating what the issue is and why it exists. Ensure you have evidence to support your claim. Then present a solution – what you want them to do – followed by the consequences: what will occur if they do – and don’t – what you ask.”

How Do You Respond to a Toxic Coworker?

  1. Find Out More About Them.
  2. Recognize what is happening to them.
  3. Create effective coping strategies.
  4. Avoid Interacting With Them Needlessly.
  5. Consider talking it out.
  6. Discuss it with your superiors

How Do You Handle a Difficult Work Colleague?

  1. Examine your own actions.
  2. Don’t make it personal.
  3. Learn how to deal with a variety of personalities.
  4. Don’t succumb to the temptation to engage in unprofessional conduct.
  5. Remind yourself of the power of teamwork.
  6. Time and Location
  7. Work on Your Empathy
  8. Pose a challenging query.
  9. Limit Your Interactions if necessary.


No matter how much we avoid difficult coworkers or train them, it’s important to learn their personalities and follow them with empathy. It will help improve your work environment and the organization as a whole. 

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