Career Advice

Although we can choose our jobs, we can’t always choose our coworkers. And, sometimes we get stuck working alongside someone we just don’t like. What’s the best way to hand this challenge? 

Don’t Trash Talk

Complaining about a difficult coworker may be fun, but it won’t solve your problem. If this person happens to find out what you said behind their back, the situation will get even worseBe the bigger personIf you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. 

Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes

Empathy is a key ingredient in getting along with others. What if you found out your annoying coworker is going through a nasty divorce? What if you discovered they recently experienced the unexpected death of a loved one? Would this change your view? Before you judge, try to find out all the facts.    

Look for a Connection

Finding something we share with another person can help us like them better. This may be a sports team, a hobby or even the same birthday. Of course, a single common interest probably won’t turn you and your aggravating coworker into best friends. However, this might be enough to improve your day-to-day interactions.    

Focus on Your Work

Being constantly frustrated with someone uses up your energy. And, ultimately, this wastes your timeWhenever possible, remind yourself to ignore your irritating coworker. Instead, redirect your attention to your job and your professional growth. 

Have a One-on-One Conversation

In some cases, having a heart-to-heart talk can improve your relationship. But proceed with caution. While one person may be willing to change their ways, another might get angry. If you decide to take this path, be sure to attack the problem rather than the person. For example, say, “I need you to help me with the following items on this upcoming project, because last time we fell behind.”  Rather than, “You are so lazy. I’m sick and tired of doing all your work for you.” 

Talk to Your HR Department

What if you’ve tried everything listed above and your coworker still is driving you crazy? You may need to call in reinforcements. Remember, talk to your manager or human resources department only as a last resort. Dashing off to HR every time you run into a minor problem could give you a bad reputation too.    

Consider Other Options

Unfortunately, an extremely trying coworker can make your work life miserable. If despite all your best efforts the situation doesn’t improve, you may need to come up with another plan. In a larger company, you might be able to request a transfer to another department. Or, in a worst-case scenario, this could be a sign you need to start searching for different job.  

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