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How to Deal with a Challenging Coworker

How to Deal with a Challenging Coworker

We’re all individuals with vastly varying personalities, so it’s human nature that we’re all not going to naturally be the best of pals. All of us have had or will have a negative experience or uncomfortable experience with a coworker. Just by reading that sentence, you may have thought of someone who could fall into the category of “gossipy,” “crabby,” “careless” or “nosy” – or yikes, maybe they can be all of those things. 


This is not an attempt to justify any negative behaviors, but it can be helpful to remember that everyone is dealing with something, known to us or not. Also, in a team environment, production is going to flow much smoother when we all are able to get along most of the time. 


Keep in mind, this blog post is not referring to situations where you feel bullied or harassed or even unsafe around a coworker. If that is the case, it is best to address the situation with human resources or your direct supervisor in a private setting.


That said, here are some things you can do when you are experiencing challenges with a coworker:




The day-to-day challenges a job brings can add enough stress to our lives that having to deal with the office “pain” makes it tough to consistently offer them a smile. However, it’s tough for a person to be consistently negative toward a coworker with a positive outlook. In your interactions with this person, displaying enthusiasm in a “Hey there, how are you?” while making eye contact with a smile could actually spin their demeanor toward you. Even if you are “faking it” at the beginning, you might find that this former jerk can become an office friend. 


You can also identify things about this person that are positive. Perhaps they are always on time. Maybe they’re the best person on the team when it comes to completing an intricate task. If you identify some of their behaviors that bring positive outcomes at work, it might help you work together better.


Talk to Someone


Don’t escalate the challenge you are having by dealing with a situation like kids at recess. Don’t complain about the coworker you are having problems with to other colleagues. Damaging someone’s reputation isn’t going to make the problem go away, and it’s not going to improve the atmosphere in the office or on the production floor. In fact, that could turn YOU into the office pain! Choose a mentor or friend to discuss the problem you are having. By doing so, you may find that they have dealt with similar situations and may have some ideas on how to address them. Talking it over outside the work environment can be a big stress reliever for you. 


Have a Direct Conversation About the Challenge


If the issue with your co-worker is negatively affecting your productivity, consider having a private conversation with your co-worker. Be pleasant, focused and specific about the behaviors that are bothering you. Your co-worker may surprise you with feedback of their own, possibly even issues they have with your behavior, so also be prepared for that.


If the problem persists and you feel you have exhausted these options, it may be time to address them with your boss or the HR department. One more thing to remember is that your recruiter at Techneeds is always here to help with your job-related challenges. We have established relationships with the companies we recruit for, so we can also assist when challenges arise. The goal here is to be productive and successful at work, so let us know how we can assist.