Please don’t put me on the team with “Bob” again was the first thought I had when my manager announced the new project. Bob is always in a miserable mood and I dread going into the office some days because he is annoying and never completes his work in a timely manner. How can I get out of this assignment? If those thoughts seem familiar to you then you’ve probably had to deal with a difficult colleague. The truth is you’re not always going to be friendly with the people we work with. A recent study found that the 85% of employees reported they have to deal with conflict to some degree and 29% do so “always” or “frequently.” Therefore, no matter where you work or what industry you happen to work in, the chances are high that you’ll find yourself in a situation where it’s challenging to interact with your peers. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to deal with the negative environment.
Implement these strategies to better manage relationships with difficult co-workers:
- Know your role.
If you don’t have authority over the other person, you’re going to look very unprofessional if you start telling them how to do their job. And don’t be surprised if they’re stubborn about your good-natured advice. Don’t feel compelled to solve the personnel problem. You’re not the boss. Instead of confronting your peer lead by example and focus on doing your own work successfully.
- Manage your emotions.
When you’re dealing with a difficult person, it’s easy to get angry and frustrated. Negative emotions are energy drainers that can suck the life out of you. Time is your most valuable asset. Practice ways to deal challenging situations in advance so that they become a habitual response when stressful circumstances arise. And avoid distractions that limit your focus to achieve goals of productivity and superior performance.
- Communicate effectively.
A client recently revealed that they were in jeopardy of losing an important customer. Through discovery sessions she was able to assess that the issue wasn’t her service but her communication style. With so many tools and resources available it’s important to understand the communication preferences of others in order to effectively deal with them. Find ways to engage with colleagues in a manner that comfortable for them. Instead of lengthy emails which can be misinterpreted consider a brief phone call if that is most suitable for them.
- Be optimistic.
If you’re consistently enthusiastic and positive about your projects and work environment, it will be difficult for your colleagues not to follow suit. And it will lessen opportunities for you to fall victim to the negativity in the workplace. This is supported by The Energy Project study which found employees are more content and productive when their core needs (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) have been met. Therefore, optimism, encouragement and appreciation are effective tools to deal with difficult colleagues.
You might not be able to change others but you can certainly change the way you react to unprofessional and unproductive behaviors. Apply the above strategies to establish and maintain positive relationships with your fellow workers that can support you down the path to true personal and professional growth.
Would you like to explore ways to increase your influence to gain more fulfillment and opportunities in your career? Then download a free copy of 25 Ways To Influence Others.