How to deal with problem colleagues

Don't let issues with your fellow workers spiral out of control. Here's how.

Having to face difficult co-workers on a daily basis can be stressful, depressing and downright unpleasant, yet for many of us it’s a reality that just won’t seem to go away.

In some instances the additional stress these co-workers cause us can start affecting our performance at work, and even sometimes begin affecting our home lives, so learning how to deal with these individuals right away is very important.

The following tips can help when dealing with problem colleagues:

1. Identify potential problem co-workers straight away.

They could be the ones always gossiping about other people, or the ones who ALWAYS have an excuse for why they aren’t reaching their deadlines, or those who are quick to point the finger at others when something goes wrong.
Knowing who these people in the organisation are can help you avoid becoming one of their victims.

2. Calm down. Now take some time out to evaluate what is really going on.

So you’ve just had a very nasty exchange with one of the troublemakers we’ve identified above (completely unprovoked) and now you’re ready to write all sorts of anonymous rage-filled notes and leave them on their desk…

But take a second to calm down and think about WHY you’re being treated unfairly. Is this person trying to make you look foolish for a reason? Maybe they’re trying to detract attention from themselves, or maybe they are just the type of person who is very direct and tends to get taken the wrong way.

3. Deal with the issue before it spirals out of control, and do so assertively.

Inform the individual that you are aware that there is an issue and will take it to a higher authority if it continues. You should be assertive when dealing with the person and not make idle threats. Dealing with the issue as soon as it arises also reduces the amount of stress it causes and stops it from escalating any further.

4. Avoid whining about the problem co-worker to other colleagues.

After all, this is not really that much different than the problem co-worker gossiping about you. You should also avoid confronting the difficult colleague in public as this will make it more difficult for the problem to be resolved and forgotten.

Staff Training
presents Conflict Management Training nationwide. Contact us at (021) 839 302.

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