top of page

How To Deal With A Difficult Coworker



‘I do not like that person. I must get to know them better.” - Abraham Lincoln


Collect before Confronting:


Before confronting your coworker about how difficult they’re being, try to understand how they see the world and why they behave the way they do. Find out if it is only you who’s getting bothered or if other team members are also disturbed by the person’s behaviour. Knowing is half the battle won.

While you’re collecting intel, ask yourself what exactly about their behaviour is bothering you. Then ask yourself why it is affecting you and how it is making you feel. Remember, your goal is not to hurt the person but to collaborate productively and get work done.


What if there are hundreds of colleagues being difficult in their own unique way?

How many of them are you going to confront?


Control before Confronting:


It would be simpler to develop an impenetrable mind which doesn’t get easily affected by other people’s behaviours. But that’s far from possible. Being aware of your triggers and managing them effectively will help you collaborate with difficult people without losing your cool. Be calm and rational at all times, observe the social guidelines for a professional environment, and, if possible, always have a third person around.

Every action you take or don’t take will pass through the gates of self-control. The stronger your control over yourself, the better you will ‌handle difficult situations.

When a coworker’s behaviour is insufferable, it is time to talk to them.

Confront with Compassion:


Imagine, they are a poorly performing football player and you are their coach trying to help them improve. No, please don’t throw them in a pool of freezing water.

Tell them how their actions make you feel, tell them what they can do differently. Be specific. Explain it to them like a story or a scene from a movie. Don’t make them feel cornered. Inform them of the consequences if they don’t improve.


If you want them to understand you, you need to understand them first. Be kind, but be firm. Don’t engage in a stand-off; be on their side and try to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.


If the person refuses to improve their ways even after you explain it to them nicely, then you need to raise the issue with your manager.


Call out after Confronting:


Share a lowdown on how the coworker’s behaviour negatively affects you and the organisation. Ask your manager for help in finding a solution. Remember to be respectful and not make it a personal attack against them. Remain professional at all times. That’s the most you can do. If this also doesn’t lead anywhere, we hope that you’ve managed to strengthen your self-control at the very least!


37 views
Background-10.png
bottom of page