5 ACTIONABLE TIPS TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT COLLEAGUES

We are sometimes faced with difficult co-workers. Whatever industry, company, and the job you’re in, the fact is you’ll never avoid working with people who have a different working style, interest, and expectations as you. There’ll always be someone who is different from your personality and what you do.

Reason? We are all unique.

So what do you do when it happens?

Here are five actionable tips that you can apply to deal with your difficult colleagues.

1. MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS.

It’s easy to be angry and be frustrated when you can’t do your work just because someone doesn’t collaborate with you on a project. Your emotions go up, and you just label that person “difficult” or “lazy.”

Pause for a while. Take a deep breath and a short break.

You’ve been offended twice or thrice. Be patient about it. To overlook an offense is a wisdom and attitude you should take. The offense isn’t inevitable.

If you’ve been working for several months or years in the company, ask yourself, “Is there a pattern that exists every time I deal with co-workers in the office?”. You might find that you couldn’t relate to a majority of people in your office.

Let’s face the truth that sometimes the problem isn’t them. There may be something wrong with you. You’re just overreacting to things.

Get a broad view or perspective at work.

2. EXAMINE YOURSELF.

Examine yourself and know how you can adjust to them, in case you always see a pattern and you’re the only person who can’t deal with work issues. You can ask your mentor or a person outside the company to give you advice and help you.

Another tip is to take a DISC or YOUnique (local version) of the Personality Development test to help you know what personalities you have. This test will also help you understand others by discerning their personalities. Through this, you’ll be able to work on both strengths and avoid clashing on both weaknesses.

3. DON’T BE PASSIVELY AGGRESSIVE.

As Filipinos, we tend to be non-confrontational when it comes to personal conflicts. We wait until things get worse before we even try to solve the issue.

However, by being proactive, we’ll be able to resolve conflicts as early as we can.

Don’t be a passively-aggressive person where you talk about a colleague behind his back. Instead of getting involved in office gossips, try to find ways on how to set personal discussions with that person.

4. SIT DOWN AND TALK.

Pray and wait for the right timing (but don’t wait for too much) where you can ask your colleague for small talk in your office, coffee chat, or dinner discussion. Team building activities facilitated by your HR/OD staff is also a good time to initiate informal conversations with your difficult colleague.

It doesn’t happen just like that, but some co-workers aren’t bad at all. If you can initiate a friendship with them, they’ll be happy to favor you in return.


Instead of the “YOU” conversation, why not make it into an “I” conversation. With respect and sincerity from you first, you’d get their attention and can even make friends with them.

5. SHOW ACTS OF KINDNESS.

Acts of kindness are also important if you’re dealing this issue for the longest time. I had a friend who bought chocolates for his co-worker. After weeks of right engagement, those difficult colleagues he previously had became his real friends.