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How to Deal with a Difficult Work Colleague

How to Deal with a Difficult Work Colleague

Team work makes the dream work

Collaboration and team work is an essential part of any role and most of us are quick to declare in our CV's how we are able to work with a variety of people and deal with difficult situations...but easier said than done. 

When you're in the office for 40 hours a week (or most likely a lot more), having a co-worker that you clash with, can be a nightmare. First instinct might be to try and avoid that person at all cost but is that really going to work when you're confine to a cubicle 10 feet from theirs? 
These are some tips to follow if you find yourself stuck with a colleague who is never wrong and always opposed to your ideas.

You don't have to be Best Friend (or friends at all for that matter)

You don't have to be Best Friend (or friends at all for that matter)

Yes, in an ideal situation you would enjoy being with your colleagues and would want to spend time with them outside the office but in reality people you work with aren't your best friends. As long as you have a professional working relationship sometimes that's the best you can ask for. 

So if you don't like your co-workers taste in music, you're never interested in their weekend plans or you can't stand constantly seeing their holiday pictures then just stick to work related or neutral topics. 

You need to realise you aren't going to like everyone and that's absolutely fine.

Discuss the Issue

Discuss the Issue

You may not have approached the subject of a difficult colleague previously because you don't like the idea of conflict, but a discussion done correctly shouldn't led to an argument.

If you're required to work with this person regularly or for an extended period consider sitting down and discussing the issue. Everyone works differently and putting two people together who have conflicting processes is normally where issues arise. Avoid using email communication or speaking in a large group and instead keep the conversation face to face and private. 

Compromise is key so put an action plan together that you both can work with without butting heads. 

Find a Common Ground

Really review why you and this co-worker haven't been able to form a productive relationship. Identifying the issue is the first stage to overcoming it.

If you're constantly disagreeing on a particular subject or ways of working then why not involve a third party to mediate the situation. 
Another person maybe better equipped to influence and support you find common ground. 

A Change is Needed

A Change is needed

If a resolution can't come from a simple decision, then contemplate your location in the workplace. Whilst you won't be able to completely change job roles, think about opportunities to work on assignments or projects that would separate you from that co-worker. 

Avoidance shouldn't be the first solution but if your interactions are progressively getting worse then time apart or separation might be the best thing for the entire team. 

Speak to a Manager

Speak to a Manager

The final option is to escalate the situation to management. If all other methods have failed then a senior member of staff or HR might be needed to support you in dealing with this difficult co-worker. 

They may be able to offer ideas or suggestions for you to work on independently or could arrange a meeting with the team to discuss better ways to successfully work as a team. 


  1. I agree completely with all that I just read in this workforce. In my prior job there were similar issues that I was dealing with. I did not follow through with these said suggestions completely. I sure wish I did. I just tried keeping to myself with these issues. I believe by me not going to higher management, I finally ended up loosing my job because of this. So follow these methods and I am sure it will be beneficial for you and your employment with the company your working with.

    1. Sorry your experience ended in you losing your job, I hope next time you're able to have a better experience. Thank you for your comment.


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