How to Deal with a Difficult Coworker

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How to Deal with a Difficult Coworker

This blog was written by Susan Griffiths, our Campus Ambassador from University of Alabama.

A few summers back, I scored this amazing job. All of my friends were jealous as I left for summer break and off to my incredible job. For the first few weeks everything was perfect. I had gotten the hang of everything and I had really hit my groove. But as the old saying goes, good things always come to an end. Unfortunately, my end came in the form of a fellow co-worker. She was one of those girls that is just really hard to get along with, and for some unknown reason she had some sort of anger towards me. Even worse, we had to work together a lot. I decided to be the bigger person and try and befriend her. Wrong move. I was pegged as being unprofessional and unfocused. I tried to talk to her about it privately, but she just smiled a fake smile and said “There’s absolutely no problem!”. So of course I turned to the one person I knew would help me solve this problem. I called Mom.

She gave me the following advice:

Follow the Golden Rule- I know it sounds corny but honestly it helped me tremendously. I treated her exactly the way I wished she treated me. I was not overly friendly but I was cordial, polite.

Talk to your boss- If the situation is getting so out of hand it is harming your work, you need to explain why and ask for advice. You may not need to go directly to your boss though. Remember to use the chain of command and go to the person who is directly in charge of you. Also, keep in mind not to blame the other person. I have found people respond best when you are willing to accept some of the blame.

Blow off some steam- Go to the gym, take a walk, catch up with an old friend. Blow off some steam, but in a healthy way. It is good to respond to anger or frustration but make sure you aren’t bogging yourself down with negativity.

Do NOT talk poorly about the person- This is a surefire way to get you in some serious trouble. While it may feel good at the time, words can really hurt later. You never know who might hear and who you might ruin a relationship with. Especially in the workplace, there is always someone around. Stay positive and don’t turn yourself into the bad guy.

LISTEN!- people give you hints all the time why they are upset but we often forget to actually listen to what they are saying. Through listening I learned she had some serious boyfriend issues. And through that I could kind of relate and slowly the ice started to melt.

With these simple rules, I made it through the summer. And let me tell you, it was an incredible experience. I learned so much, not only about the public relations field, but also about relating to others. It was a hard lesson to learn, and I won’t lie I had a few minor breakdowns, but I am so glad I did. As the ancient Indian motto goes “it will all be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, then it is not the end”.