Dealing with difficult people

How to get along with coworkers you don't like

Throughout the course of your career it is likely that you will encounter people that you won’t get along with. Regardless of whether you see eye to eye, you’ll need to find a way to cooperate and your work will still need to get done. So how can you learn to get along with people that you find difficult to work with? Try some of these techniques.

Try to understand where they’re coming from

It’s usually unlikely that someone will act negatively towards you without an underlying reason. You may not have done anything wrong, but your negative colleague might be having a bad day and unknowingly taking it out on you. Perhaps this person is under unusually high pressure to complete a project or to meet a tight deadline. Try to understand the pressures that your colleague may be facing that may be encouraging them to act in a grumpy way towards you. Maybe you could even extend an olive branch to them and offer some help and support. You may lose a difficult colleague and gain a helpful one.

Avoid conflict where possible in the office

If you start noticing a conflict brewing, do your best to find ways to avoid it. Clashing with your difficult colleague will not make the situation any easier. Try not to react to negative comments, and offer alternative solutions to pessimistic conversations.

Stay focused – and do your best work

It might be hard to do, but try to ignore conflicts, clashes and difficult relationships by focusing on your own tasks. Being productive and doing a great job with the work that you do can be a good way to feel happy and increase your own self-confidence. Those positive feelings might be just the distraction you need to avoid worrying about conflict with your difficult co-worker. Producing a high standard of work will typically generate lots of respect from other members of your team too – maybe even from your troublesome colleague. 

Remain positive 

Keep calm and carry on. Try to ignore negativity, and only take constructive criticism on board. Be friendly and optimistic in your interactions with your difficult colleague. All of that positive energy you’re directing their way might make it pretty hard for them to continue being negative towards you. And you’ll have the benefit of feeling proud of yourself for remaining positive during a tough situation. 

Escalate your problem with the difficult person

If there’s someone at work who is really making your time miserable, and despite your best efforts they’re not improving the behaviour towards you, or they’re making it hard for you to get your work done then maybe it’s time to ask for help from a manager or someone within a more senior role. They may have some advice for you to better manage the situation, Or they might be able to help mediate a conversation between you and the person you’ve had trouble with.


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