You are likely to come across a difficult coworker at some point in your IT career. This can happen to anyone at any company. How you deal with the coworker depends on your personality and the support you receive from colleagues, coworkers, and leaders. The sooner you take action to handle the issue, the sooner you may start experiencing results.
Choose among these suggestions to help you effectively deal with a difficult coworker.
Focus on Yourself
Make sure your coworker truly is causing a problem and you are not simply overreacting. Perhaps you commonly experience a similar issue with the same type of person or behavior. Or, maybe you see a pattern in your interactions with coworkers. This may mean you have a hot button that easily is pushed.
Talk with a Colleague
Find out whether a trusted colleague is noticing or experiencing similar issues with the coworker. Ask for an objective observation about the issue. If your colleague agrees that the problem exists, discuss some ways to professionally address it.
Meet with the Coworker
Discuss the issue with the coworker who is creating it. Use “I” messages to focus on your experiences of the situation. Explain the impact their actions have on you. Remain pleasant and agreeable during the discussion. Try to reach an agreement about one or two positive actions to engage in going forward.
The coworker may not be aware of their actions or how you feel about them. They might agree to consider changing their pattern of interacting in the way you described. Or, the coworker could decide not to do anything differently.
Point Out the Coworker’s Behavior
If you do not feel comfortable talking privately with the coworker, use humor to publicly address their behavior. Perhaps you can salute your coworker after an interaction. Or, you might place your hand over your heart to show that their words wounded you. Then, ask the coworker to consider using more positive words or behavior going forward.
Focus on whether the coworker’s behavior gets better, worsens, or does not change going forward. Determine whether a follow-up talk may make a difference. Focus on how badly you want to make peace with the coworker and keep your job.
Talk with a Manager
Determine whether you want to discuss the coworker’s behavior with your manager or the coworker’s manager. Be sure to write down notes clarifying the issue and how it impacts your productivity. Plan to participate in follow-up discussions as well.
Limit Your Interactions
Spend as little time as possible in situations that may involve interacting with the coworker. Avoid working with them on projects, voluntary committees, and other circumstances whenever you can. Transfer to another role within the organization if possible.
Find a New Job
If the coworker decides not to change, work with RightStone to find a new job. Here is a link to our job board.