How to deal with a difficult colleague and stay calm at work

 
Sarah Spickernell
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Sometimes there's just no escaping a difficult colleague (Source: Getty)
Most of us have come across one of them at some point – the type of colleague who sends our blood pressure through the roof.
Whether its an impossible-to-please-boss, an intern with attitude or competitive co-worker, there's no point in closing your eyes and wishing they would go away, because they won't.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that when you encounter such a person in the work place, you should follow some simple steps to make life easier for yourself and resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

DON'T AVOID THE ISSUE – CONFRONT IT

There is no point in hoping a problem will go away on its own. If your colleague is being difficult now, this will almost certainly continue unless you do something about it.
Recognising that a problem needs addressing is the first step towards stamping it out.

LOOK AT IT FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW

When you're overcome with anger or irritation, thinking about things from the culprit's point of view is no easy task – but understanding a person's negative actions can help you do something to stop them.
Find a moment, perhaps in the evening when you're feeling more relaxed about it, to consider why they acted the way they did. To do this successfully, you must first get it out of your head that they have it in for you – this is very unlikely to be the case, and if it is it will probably be because you did or said something to offend them.

HAVE AN INFORMAL CHAT

If you think they are a reasonable person who would react well to an open conversation, being upfront could be the best solution.
The setting is important – it may be good to go outside of the office and to a coffee shop with a relaxed atmosphere. Maybe even wait for a work social event and take them aside to talk about it then. Avoid an aggressive tone and be open-minded about hearing their point of view – it will make them more likely to respond well.

TALK TO SOMEONE YOU CAN TRUST AT WORK

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether the difficulty you are experiencing is unique – it is possible that your other colleagues are experiencing the same problems, in which case discussing it together can help you come to a decision on how to act.
It can also be beneficial just to have someone to talk about your problems to, if nothing else – knowing someone else is aware of your struggle might make it easier to deal with.

MAKE TIME

On any one day, there will probably be something much more pressing and important to deal with than a tricky colleague. But the longer you leave it, the greater the tension will grow, and if you accept a certain type of treatment for long enough it will set the standard – brionging it up after six months wouldn't do much good.

BE ADAPTABLE AND READY TO LEARN FROM YOUR OWN MISTAKES

There will always be something you could have phrased better or reacted more appropriately to. Make sure you reflect on your interactions with the difficult colleague, and think about what you could learn for future run-ins.
Don't automatically assume they are entirely to blame, either – it usually takes two to tango and if you think back enough you may realise that something you said was insensitive, or perhaps you didn't offer the level of help they needed.

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