How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

No workplace is complete without difficult coworkers and office politics. However, some coworkers can make getting through the day difficult. If you don't have the luxury of turning to a new job, here is how to cope with difficult coworkers until you can escape:

Take a break. You still need to get your work done, but find a space where you can be alone and take some deep breaths. This way, you can resist snapping back and descending to your coworker's level.

Don't fall into the backstabbing trap. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to get a coworker to say something critical about the boss and then spread that information around. Anyone who seems to be trying to get information or dirt from you should be avoided.

Have a talk. Meet in private to air out your grievances. Try not to point fingers at your coworker because, when a negative coworker feels attacked, she can unleash her fury on you. A negative coworker who is especially skilled at manipulation might make you feel like you're the one in the wrong. Instead of making it about emotions, keep the focus on what is best for the office at all times.

Keep meticulous notes of your interactions. If what your coworker is doing warrants a trip to Human Resources, write down the details of each incident, including the date and time. HR will appreciate having a clear record to avoid any vague accusations.

Practice your poker face. A ranting coworker or supervisor is trying to get a reaction and will then use that reaction against you. Be calm, do not shout back and do not cry. When you have the chance to speak, stay focused on the task at hand or the problem to be solved. You will appear more professional, and, chances are, the coworker will look much worse than you do.

Focus on the future. You may want to scream at your negative coworker or talk behind her back, but you cannot risk alienating your other coworkers by coming off as bitter. Look at each coworker as a possible reference, and treat them accordingly.

Start looking elsewhere. If you like the work, are qualified to do it and can find recommendations from coworkers who are not draining all your energy, then start sending your resume to other places. In some cases, you may be able to handle a negative coworker, but, if you have serious problems concentrating on your work because this coworker or supervisor is yelling at you constantly, then it is time to go.

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