What you need to know:
- If you’re having a problem with a difficult co-worker, pause and look at your role in the relationship.
- Are you playing the “two wrongs make a right” game, where you do something that you know will set the person off just because he or she annoyed you recently?
- Remove emotions from the situation and concentrate on your own strengths so you can make the relationship less difficult.
No matter where you are currently employed, you may sometimes have to deal with difficult co-workers. Whether they are openly hostile, gossipers, or stubborn and unwelcoming of new ideas, they can make you want to quit. But in today’s economy, quitting any job is simply not an option. Therefore, your best bet is to learn how to get along with difficult people, and even learn from them.
Realise that no matter how difficult someone seems, working together harmoniously is possible. With a little self-knowledge, understanding and patience, you can get along with anyone.
Understand business relationships
Any workplace – be it a highly formal and technical environment or a laid back, close-knit company – ultimately becomes your extended family. That doesn’t mean you have to invite your co-workers over for holiday dinners. It simply means that our personalities tend to seep into our professional relationships. If someone has unresolved problems with their mother or father, it is probable they will have a problem with their male or female boss. If they are in a family where siblings are jealous or competitive, or where they are used to bullying, they are likely to exhibit the same characteristics when with their co-workers. This is called transference, whereby you transfer your personal relationships into the workplace.
The best way to overcome this is to focus on your personal life and make it as good as it can be. Mend your personal relationships and talk out problems with parents or siblings. By doing this, you’ll handle work relationships better by transferring your positive personal relationship aspects rather than the negative ones.
Your colleagues aren’t your friends
Whatever you do, don’t try to make friends at the workplace. Remember that you are there to do a job, not to make friends. If you happen to work with someone you like and a friendship develops, that’s fine. But don’t force it or think you have to be friends with all your co-workers. Look at the relationship from a purely professional perspective and keep your emotions out of it.
Learn from every relationship
Every difficult person you encounter at the workplace is actually helping you learn something. For example, a boss who undermines your efforts or who berates you is likely to make you adopt a better leadership style in future. This is called learning by opposite. Rather than let the difficult people frustrate you, see them as teachers who are helping to shape you.
If you’re having a problem with a difficult co-worker, pause and look at your role in the relationship. Are you playing the “two wrongs make a right” game, where you do something that you know will set the person off just because he or she annoyed you recently? Remove emotions from the situation and concentrate on your own strengths so you can make the relationship less difficult. If the other person doesn’t change or still blatantly doesn’t like you, that’s OK. Stop caring what others think. In the end, the only person you can change is yourself.
Accept the relationship
Face it – a perfect workplace simply doesn’t exist. Accept that people think differently, act differently and respond to situations differently than you, and get to understand the other person’s point of view. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them or like them. You just have to accept that they have a different way of handling stress or approaching situations.
Ditch the difficulties
Remember, none of your co-workers was hired to please you. Each person was hired because they possess a certain skill and can do a certain job. So, don’t quit your job because of your difficult co-workers or boss. Chances are that you’ll find the same kind of people in your new workplace anyway. Instead, ease the difficulties by focusing on yourself and your mindset. When you make yourself the focus rather than the difficult co-worker, you diffuse the relationship and become both happier and more productive.