Career Guide

Top 10 ways to hande difficult coworkers

Recognise that they are also human

It is easy to demonise a difficult coworker by creating perceptions of them as monsters or magnified versions of your high school bullies. In reality, these people also have emotions, vulnerability and weaknesses. The first step is to see them in a non-threatening manner.

Have compassion for them

As Gandhi preaches, non-violence is the best defense. Studies have shown that bullies, regardless of their age, usually have emotional insecurities. By changing your stance from defensive to compassionate, your reactions will be more measured.

Horrible Bosses

In reality, your manager is in charge regardless of whether he is a mean-spirited micromanager who apparently enjoys tormenting you. While he may seem to support your coworker, confrontation would probably be the worst way to handle this issue as it may jeopardise your position in the company.


Now that you’ve identified your difficult coworker and understood that they are also human, it is time to act. Take some time to analyse the situation before jumping into conclusions. Maybe the person has had a rough day or is dealing with a difficult superior him/herself.

Leave it to the Professionals

In every company, there will be someone who handles these issues; such could be the Human Resources department or Staff Welfare. Be proactive and seek their opinion on how to address this situation as they have the experience and expertise to do so.

Stand Your Ground

Never feel weakened by having to deal with a difficult coworker. Resolve to put an end to his/her behaviour, albeit in a professional, peaceful manner. Be firm about not tolerating his actions and do not wait too long until the behaviour becomes a habit.

Be the Better Person

As tempting as it may be to ruin that person’s life by trash talking or resolving to immature ideas to get back at them, it will reflect your lack of character. Managers always take note of employees’ responses towards such adversities and it will get you into their bad books.

Beware of gossip

A tiff between coworkers is often hot office gossip which can lead to speculation and fuel the rift between the two of you. It is unnecessary to share your grievances with other colleagues unless they are able to help you directly.

Be Their friend

Sometimes, you never really had the opportunity to get to know your colleague on a personal level. As crazy as it sounds, once you get to know them on a more intimate level, you may actually understand why he/she acts that way. Most people loosen up when they no longer see you as a threat.

Take home a lesson

This whole episode should serve as part of your learning curve in your professional life. You may have gained a new skill of dealing with difficult people better or you may also have learnt that certain mannerisms of yours may not go down so well with all your colleagues.