How to deal with tough work colleagues

I think we’ve all been faced with this one. You are on an assignment or project with the colleague from hell. The question is, how do you successfully work with this colleague, without damaging your reputation or being a push over?

Here are 8 tips:

1. Keep the lines of communication open

You can sort out most disagreements if the lines of communication are still open. Always aim to keep a dialogue going. As soon as those lines close, you risk damaging the success of the project.

2. Reframe the situation

Very often we have a story going on in our heads, which may or may not be true. It could be ‘so-and-so is lazy’ or ‘person x just wants to make my life difficult’ or ‘person y is not pulling his or her weight’. Very often these are just that, stories, and often only based on our perception rather than reality. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, take a few moments to reframe what could be going on. For example, instead of ‘so-and-so just wants to make my life difficult’, how about ‘so-and-so doesn’t realise how her behave impacts on me’. Sometimes finding a different angle on a situation can unlock the conflict.

3. Have a quiet conversation

Very often conflict in the work place comes about because of a difference in working styles and preferences. For example, my husband can infuriate me by his need for detail, thinking time and structure. Whereas I annoy him by spur of the moment decisions to do things based on a whim.

If you can have a quiet conversation about how their behaviour is impacting on you, it can often surface these conflict areas. Remember to strip out the emotion in this conversation!

4. Look for the positive in the other person

When someone is annoying us, it can be very easy to see the negatives in them. In fact our brain will be looking for evidence to back up our assessment that they are very tough to work with. Therefore, start to look for the positives about working with them. Suddenly the positives may start to outweigh the negatives.

5. Remain positive

Sometimes we are given the project assignment with the project team from hell. That’s life… If you can remain positive and upbeat through the assignment, you may come out with an enhanced reputation than if you let yourself get pulled down to the other people’s level.

6. Have a safe group of people you can rant to

Having a sense of humour failure in the office can sometimes be detrimental to your long term career prospects. You don’t want to be seen as ‘unprofessional’ or ’emotionally immature’. Therefore assemble people around you, as part of your support team, who are unconnected to your workplace who you can safely release your frustration and vent too.

7. Take 51% responsibility

Whilst it may be although other person’s fault, and they are just hell to work with. It normally takes two to tango when relationships go sour at work. Take a moment to consider that if you had some responsibility for the situation and relationship between you, what did you do to contribute to your difficult working relationship?

8. Have a conversation with your coach, buddy or mentor

Learning to deal with difficult people at work is just one of the skills lawyers, accountants and consultants need. Therefore, use your coach, mentor or work buddy to give you advice to mend the relationship.

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