Coexisting with Coworkers

by | Mar 12, 2018

Oftentimes, coworkers can be the levity in your work day. It’s great to get along with your coworkers, and it’s even better when you work well together.

However, it’s practically impossible to go your entire career without working with a coworker who isn’t as easy to work with. We won’t always be a perfect match for each coworker we have, but how do you deal with a colleague that’s downright difficult to work with?

Friction with colleagues is a big stressor in the workplace. Predictable stress, such as stress about a deadline or big project at work, are manageable. However, in his article, Travis Bradberry tells us that unanticipated and unnecessary stressors have a deeper impact.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

So if working with difficult people causes more than the average amount of stress, what is there to do? Bradberry suggests methods to work around the distraction. These situations are always sensitive, so it’s best to handle them with sensitivity and tact, for the sake of everyone (including you) involved.

  • Setting boundaries and limits: Try to budget your time with a difficult coworker. The longer you’re around them, the thinner your patience will get and the higher your stress will be. Further, you may become more and more irritated, which could lead to you saying something that might not put you in the best light. So, work with them when you need to but take breaks. This is especially true for down time/lunch breaks. Take this time to either recharge by yourself, or spend time with a coworker you get along well with. That being said, try to avoid getting involved in too much gossip about the coworker.
  • Know your own emotions: In order to sustain emotional distance, you need to be aware of how the coworker affects your emotions. By being tuned in this way, you’re more able to be in control of what you’re exposed to. Notice your emotions as they change, and take action for yourself, if you can. Also, being aware of how you’re feeling will make you less likely to “snap” and say something that will paint you in a bad light.
  • Focus less on the problems, and more on the solutions: This is a great piece of advice for anything work-related. If you focus exclusively on the issue and how tough it is to deal with, it’s easy to become stuck in a rut of complaining to yourself. Think about the issues rationally, and try to think of genuine, tangible solutions. It’s helpful to look at the situation like a science experiment, and try to take as much emotional thought away form it as possible. Remember, thinking about and implementing solutions will improve the situation. Wallowing in your frustration does nothing.


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