How to Collaborate with a Difficult Co-Worker

As one of Hartford’s leading employment agencies, Stewart Staffing knows everyone has had to deal with a difficult co-worker at one time or another in their careers. Whether they’re loud, gossipy, too chatty, or just plain rude, it can certainly make for an unpleasant working environment. It’s even worse when you have to collaborate directly together on a project. How will you ever survive? Start by following these 7 tips:

#1. Consider your own behavior.

Before you try to get out of the project or start complaining to another co-worker, examine your own behavior to make sure you’re not contributing to the problem. For instance, perhaps there’s a personality conflict at work that’s not really anyone’s fault. Or maybe you’ve said something in the past that was hurtful and now they’re being passive aggressive toward you. Whatever the case, take stock of the situation – in a realistic way – and try to look at it from the other person’s perspective.

#2. Aim for a fresh start.

Just because you’ve had trouble in the past with a co-worker doesn’t mean you can’t strive for a fresh start. Meet with your co-worker privately and clear the air. Let them know you’re ready to collaborate and want to work together successfully on the project. Do your best to keep emotions out of it and try to be polite and professional.

#3. Don’t expect them to change.

That said, it’s important to realize you’re likely not going to change their behavior. Accept the fact that you have to work together and instead focus on your tasks and duties.

#4. Do look for the positive.

Perhaps you don’t like how gossipy a co-worker it. That’s understandable. But there must be some other, more positive qualities that you do like or even admire. Try to look for those instead. When you focus on the positive, it will be easier to build bridges and work together.

#5. Be careful when communicating.

When it comes to communicating with a difficult co-worker, in person is often best. Details can get easily lost in translation via email, and if they’re impatient or often take things the wrong way, it can sabotage your project. Instead, aim to get together face-to-face, or at least have a phone conversation to discuss project details.

#6. Don’t take it personally.

When someone is constantly negative or hard to deal with, it can be easy to take personally. But don’t do it. Their behavior likely has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their personality or issues they’re facing outside of work.

#7. Know when to ask for help.

If the situation is going south fast, don’t be afraid to ask your boss for help. Just make sure you’ve exhausted all possible options first. Also, when you do have a conversation with your boss, just state the facts and try to keep the emotion out of it.

If you’re tired of difficult co-workers and are ready for a new opportunity, contact the experts at Stewart Staffing. As one of Hartford’s leading employment agencies, we’ll get to know your background, skills and personality; we’ll then get to work matching you with opportunities that are a better fit for you and your career goals. Contact us today to learn more.

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