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Lessons to Learn From a Difficult Coworker

Working alongside a difficult coworker can completely destroy any positive feelings you have about your job and your workplace. Whether they sap your enthusiasm or rob you of creativity and confidence by being publicly hostile, dismissive of new ideas or badmouthing you behind your back, dysfunctional coworkers can turn your job into something you dread.

However, you can’t quit your job every time one of these toxic people comes along. Learn how to get along with them instead—and maybe learn a few lessons in the process.

1) Apply an understanding of relationship dynamics.

The people you work with tend to become somewhat of an extended family. And just like when dealing with your family, there are going to be times when you don’t like each other or don’t get along. And people bring their experiences with them to the workplace. If they come from a family where siblings are jealous or competitive, or where everyone speaks sarcastically to each other—that’s the kind of relationship they’ll develop with their co-workers. The best way to deal with this? Focus on your personal life and your outside relationships, and make them as good as they can be. This will help make you stronger and more resilient in the face of negative workplace relationships.

2) Keep it in perspective.

It’s great if you make friends in the workplace, but you don’t have to. You’re there to do a job, not to find your new best buddy. Don’t feel you have to be friends with all your co-workers. Sometimes looking at workplace relationships from a purely professional perspective, keeping your emotions out of it, will help you make peace with the jerk in the next cubicle.

3) Chalk it up to a learning experience.

Every frustrating person you encounter on the job is actually helping you learn something. For example, your boss undermines your efforts or berates you. You don’t like being treated like that, of course, so you make a mental note that when you’re in a leadership position, you’ll never act like that. You can also make note of the warning signs so you’ll know to watch for them in your next position.

4) Take responsibility for your part.

Maybe it’s not him, it’s you. If you’re having a problem with a difficult co-worker, ask yourself if you’re contributing to the difficult behavior. Are you playing the “two wrongs can make a right” game, where you do something you know will bother the person because he annoyed you recently? Remove yourself emotionally from the situation and concentrate on your own strengths. If the other person doesn’t change or still blatantly doesn’t like you, stop caring what others think. The only person you can change is yourself.

No matter how difficult some coworkers seem, working together harmoniously is possible. With a little reflection, understanding and patience, you can get along with anyone. But if you’re ready for a new job in a workplace where you’re a better personality fit, call Synerfac today!