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Breathe In & Dig Deep – Here’s How To Work With Difficult Team Members

No one is perfect, and working with people tends to be difficult, especially when the person you have to collaborate with is already a relatively difficult team member. Getting along with coworkers is important in overcoming adversity and honing in on your conflict resolution skills. 

In this article, we highlight some of the best ways to cope when dealing with difficult coworkers and make the best of frustrating coworker experiences.  

Speak Your Mind

Sometimes coworkers can make it very hard for you to feel comfortable in the workplace. If this is the case, you may need to confront them. It is important to learn how to voice your opinions and make yourself heard without being rude or condescending. 

Share your feelings and thoughts using “I” language to ensure that your perspective is heard and understood clearly. If you use “you” language instead, they might try to poke holes in your argument. 

Understand Their Perspective

When dealing with difficult coworkers, try to understand where they are coming from. Getting to know their perspective allows you to learn how to get along with them. Once you get to know them a little better, you can begin to understand what experiences and pieces of their background led them to be difficult to work with. 

If you can understand them, you are more likely to resolve the conflict and learn how to work together more effectively. 

Evaluate Your Behavior

Often, we tend to dislike someone because they act in a similar way to someone who has caused problems for us in the past. If you reflect on why you cannot get along with this coworker and determine that the problem is based more on your behavior, acknowledge it and remind yourself that a coworker is a different person. 

Try to remind yourself that you have to give them a chance before deciding that you don’t like them. Team collaboration is essential in the workplace, meaning we have to do whatever it takes to get along with colleagues, even if this means finding areas to compromise on if we don’t get along. 

Talk To Your Boss

When you have a difficult coworker who has a tendency to break a lot of the rules or has a negative impact on your work, you might need to consider bringing the issue to your manager or the head of Human Resources. 

Before you do this, make sure you have documented your grievances to provide proof of what’s been happening. Your boss or manager will then deal with the problem from there and allow you to feel comfortable and safe in your work environment. 

Stay Neutral 

Chances are pretty good that if you find a particular coworker difficult to work with, other people in the workplace do too. If you notice that many people talk about this person, it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself. Don’t get involved, or else it can make the situation even worse.

By remaining neutral, you help to ensure that the work environment stays positive. If you feel an overwhelming need to talk about this person, do it outside of work with friends or family members, so the issue remains outside the office. 

Stay Away

If you feel as though this coworker is just too difficult to work with, do your best to limit the amount of time you spend interacting with them to help you cope. Maybe you can handle them in smaller spurts of time.

When you must be around each other in meetings or during lunch, try to hang out around coworkers you get along with instead. Be mindful of this person’s feelings, though, and do not make it obvious that you are trying to avoid them. 

Know Your Triggers

Figure out which of the things they do bother you more than the rest and reflect on them. Doing so will allow you to learn when to remove yourself from the interaction before things escalate too much. 

Recognizing your triggers is a good way to ensure that you remain cool and keep your composure in the workplace. Try focusing the energy you would spend being annoyed by them on the things that are important to you instead. 

Be Compassionate 

You have no way of knowing what goes on in this difficult person’s life when they are not at work. Everyone has baggage and problems to deal with. Maybe their issues are being reflected through their behavior at work. Again, team collaboration is critical to a positive workplace, so having an open mind and giving everyone a chance will only help the environment around you.

Try approaching the situation with respect and compassion while attempting to get to know them better. Their situation may be something you can relate to and eventually allow a friendship to develop from it. 

Ignore Them

Sometimes you can try everything you know to deal with a difficult coworker, and they still rub you the wrong way. If this is the case, and none of these tips worked for you, the best thing you can do is try to ignore them whenever possible. Just go about your business and focus on that.

You have tried everything within reason at this point. Only interact with the person when you absolutely need to. When this is not possible, you can at least limit the amount of interaction you have with them at work. 


The workplace can be very controversial, and at times, even dramatic. At the end of the day, you are there to do a job, better yourself, and help your company succeed, not make friends. 

However, if there is a particular coworker who is just too difficult to work with, some of these tricks may help you get through. You cannot always deal with difficult people, but these tips should give you a few ways to try. Work should not be something you dread, and dealing with difficult coworkers is completely manageable. 

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