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A difficult co-worker

It’s inevitable that in your long working life, you’ll come across challenging co-workers. The first instinct is to make an emotional defence against the challenge. However, it’s important to avoid acting on your emotions, instead face the co-worker challenges with logic. Have you experienced a tricky colleague at work?


Time matters

A survey claims that the average British worker will spend 3,507 days at work in their lifetime and they found that British people think about quitting their job 16 times a year. A difficult co-worker will be in the mix of reasons for leaving a job.

What to do?

Here are some tips to deal with a difficult colleague with bad behaviour at work.

  • Ask them how they are, as you want to make sure they are OK. Your aim is to be supportive and not a threat, as they should see you as an ally rather than an adversary.
  • Be upfront with a co-worker making barbed comments at you; take them to one side and ask them why. They'll maybe apologetic as they genuinely didn't realise it was a problem.
  • If your boss continually dumping urgent work on you, choose a quiet moment when you can talk to them about their expectations and agree how best to work together, including realistic timeframes.
  • Be tolerant of different approaches, as a team needs a mix of personalities and approaches. Styles clash, so your bad colleague may be someone whose approach is different from yours.
  • Handle aggression assertively, as it’s important to walk away or say that you are going to put the phone down and return when they have calmed down.
  • Be mindful of mental health issues, as 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem. Keeping cool and using rational argument should de-escalate a situation and then report the situation to HR for them to deal with.
  • Ride it out, by forging allies in the workplace, with those who can cover your back and give you additional support against a challenging worker.

Often people believe that raising a grievance or formal complaint about their behaviour of a co-worker will solve the situation. Few scenarios end with a dismissal and your left working with them and they will be angry with you; making matters worse. Most relationships at work turn sour, because of poor communication, big differences in opinion or general conflict within the work environment. You won’t always be friends with colleagues, but be professional and spend time focussing on a solution.

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Visit at or call the UK call centre 0333 323 0098 for more information.

Important: If you feel that you have tricky work situation, please seek advice from your HR Manager.



Date: 26 August 2019 by Max Robinson