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How to deal with difficult co-workers (Executive edition)

Got some colleagues you can’t stand?

Do they make your job harder?

Want to know the best way to deal with these situations?

Here you go 5 steps to manage difficult co-workers like a pro!


Step 1 – Take a step back

Re-evaluate what is the actual problem or problems you are facing with a particular colleague that cause them to make it on your “pain to work with” list.

Step 2 – Manage or Delegate

Now, after looking at what is the “cause”, can you solve it yourself? Sometimes problems with colleagues could be caused by miscommunication, simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time and etc. If you can learn to manage this, it will not only make you better at problem solving but increases your conflict management and personal development skills.

If the problem is over your limit (no shame in asking for help), bring this up with your superior privately – focus on the issues that affect your work performance and what your superior can do to help.

Step 3 – Work on long term

Whether you solved the conflict yourself or had your superior step in, take up a positive approach with that person. Build rapport and lend a helping hand when needed. If any new “issues” arrive, the rapport that you have built will give you the opportunity to have an open discussion to solve matters amicably.

Step 4 – Self Evaluation (most important!)

It’s always easy to point the finger at others, so now let’s try this exercise.

If you are currently facing a problem with a colleague at the moment, take time to reflect (I tend to do this on the way home from work, peak hour traffic gives me a lot of time).

Start at the beginning – the situation that caused the conflict
(be honest with yourself)
1. How was my behaviour towards the situation?
2. Did I contribute in a positive or negative way towards the situation?
3. Did l make any effort to provide solutions towards the situation?
4. How did I behave after the conflict?
5. How can I react better to future issues?

Step 5 – Acceptance

Now what do you do if you have done everything you can and conflict still remains?

Answer – Accept that only you can change yourself, this is only valid if you have done the steps above. At the end of the day, work is top priority – if the conflict continues to affect your work – you MUST inform your superior on the effects and what you have done to try and resolve it – for work related issues that is above your control, it is advised that you highlight it to your managers / superiors who can decide on the next steps to take.

How to deal with difficult co-workers

Managers / Superiors, you of all people would know the importance of being able to trust your superiors to address workplace conflicts. Let your team know that they can count on you to help them with difficult situations with a win/win outcome.

Get guidance from experts to help you learn ways to manage conflict and difficult situations well, so that your team can focus on achieving their best at the workplace.