Co-Existing with Difficult Co-Workers: When to Ask for Help, When to Move On

July 18th, 2014

Everybody has had at least one coworker who makes your workday difficult or stressful. If the person is just annoying and they don’t have a direct bearing on your day-to-day work, you may be able to ignore them. But if you have to work with them on a daily basis, you need to decide when to take action, and what action to take.

Here’s how:

Evaluate your situation as objectively as possible

At work, you expect others to act like professionals. So it’s always shocking when a coworker acts hostile or immature. Take the time to let the shock wear off, then try to evaluate what’s really going on. Are they focusing their toxic behavior on you, or on everybody? Do they act this way regularly, or do certain situations provoke it?

Document interactions

If one of your coworkers bullies or undermines you personally, take notes—privately—as to what’s been said and done, and under what circumstances. You’ll want to be able to back up your complaint with examples if you do have to take the matter to a manager.

Make your move

If the problem persists, you need to take action. The longer you wait, the angrier or more frustrated you’ll become, and you might end up saying or doing something you’ll regret later. And, the stress of dealing with a toxic coworker will negatively affect you and probably your work. Start by letting the offender know that you’re uncomfortable with his behavior. Try saying something like, “I may be wrong about this,” or “I apologize if I’ve done something to bother you,” then explain your feelings about your treatment as plainly but politely as possible.

Know when to get a third party involved.
If your coworker isn’t receptive to your attempts to clear up the problem, decide whether your boss or another manager can be a neutral third party who can help mediate the situation. It can be tricky—the person you have a problem with could be the boss’s favorite, or the one all of your clients like best. You can try using a coworker as a sounding board—just don’t go to her as a whiner or a complainer. Be as objective as possible. If she is aware of the issue, you can also ask whether you may be part of the problem.

Know when to move on

If you’ve tried to resolve the situation and it just didn’t work, it’s time to start looking for a new position, either internally or at another company.It’s not worth the stress to work day in and day out in an environment that makes you miserable. If you can’t move to a different department, it’s time to find a new job.

If you do need to find a new job but you’re concerned about venturing back into the marketplace, why not work with an experienced staffing agency? At Synerfac, we not only help our candidates find great jobs, we help them find the right workplace environment. Call us if you’d like to know more, or search our open jobs in Raleigh and beyond!

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