How to Deal With a Mean Coworker at Your Job

How to Deal With a Mean Coworker at Your Job
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Workplace conflict is common, especially between coworkers. Studies show that workplace conflicts cost businesses over $300 million annually.

When dealing with a colleague who has been rude or disrespectful, it’s important to remain calm and collected. The key is to take a step back and analyze the situation before reacting. This way, you won’t get emotionally involved and escalate the situation.

The best thing to do when dealing with a mean coworker is to avoid them at all costs. If this isn’t possible, try to minimize your interaction with them as much as possible.

Here are some tips on how to deal with a mean coworker:

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1. Get to know their perspective.

Coworkers are often difficult people to work with. They come across as rude, insensitive, and selfish. But there’s one thing about them that you might find interesting — they tend to think differently than you do. They may even hold views that challenge your perceptions.

Getting to know someone’s perspective can be challenging; sometimes, it takes effort. But once you learn how they see the world, you may gain a deeper understanding of why they act the way they do.

The next time you notice yourself being judgmental toward your coworker, try thinking about what they are experiencing.

You may discover that their experience influences their behavior. For instance, maybe your colleague doesn’t like to spend money because they grew up poor. Or perhaps your coworker feels overlooked because they didn’t receive enough attention growing up.

Understanding someone’s perspective could help you empathize with them. And empathy is key to building trust and improving communication.

2. Learn to voice your thoughts.

If your coworker is making it difficult for others to feel comfortable at work — whether it’s being rude, gossiping about others behind their backs, or acting inappropriately — it may be time to consider confronting the situation. But before doing so, be sure to take some steps to ensure that you’re able to do so without jeopardizing your relationship.

First, try to identify what specific behaviors are causing you discomfort. Is there something you don’t like about their tone of voice or body language? Or maybe they don’t seem interested in working together anymore.

Whatever it is, keep track of each instance and write notes whenever you notice one happening. Then, once you’ve compiled enough evidence, approach your coworker directly, saying, “I noticed that we haven’t been getting along lately, and I wanted to let you know that I’m starting to feel uncomfortable around you because of. Would it be possible to change our dynamic?”

Next, ask them to acknowledge the issue. This could mean accepting that their behavior isn’t appropriate, apologizing, or simply asking how they feel about it. Once your coworker realizes the problem,

3. Focus on your positive relationships.

Regarding working relationships, it’s important to look beyond the negative ones. You might think about how much you dislike your coworker, but what if there are others you like? What if you could take steps to improve your relationship with everyone else?

Rather than dwelling on this coworker, shift your focus towards those you enjoy being around — whether it’s someone in your team or another department. Building positive relationships with your colleagues will help you feel better about yourself and the workplace.

Consider asking one of your favorite coworkers to do something fun outside work. For example, you could ask them to go bowling together, play tennis or go hiking. By taking advantage of opportunities to spend time with your friends, you’ll find that you can relax and unwind.

4. Accept their personality.

Your coworker’s personality plays a role in how they act, making it hard to understand why certain things bother them. If you want to get along with your coworker, you need to accept them as they are. Try not to judge or criticize their actions. Instead, listen when they speak and respond accordingly.

For example, if your coworker dislikes talking too loudly, talk less and listen more. Be mindful of your words and avoid using phrases such as “you should have said…” or “that would never happen.” When you speak, make sure you’re talking in a way that makes sense. And remember to say something if you feel your coworker is being inappropriate!

5. Talk to your supervisor.

If your coworker consistently makes you feel unhappy, it may be time to discuss the situation with your boss. Ask your manager for guidance on how best to handle the situation.

It’s likely that your boss knows your coworker well and understands how difficult it can be to deal with them. Asking for advice from your manager will allow you to address the matter without feeling awkward.

It’s also worth noting that you can discuss issues with your coworker before your boss is present. Sometimes, speaking to your manager about these situations over email is easier. Just be careful to refrain from using email to complain about your coworker. That’s usually considered bad form.

Try to keep your conversations professional and focused on the issue at hand. Don’t start discussing personal problems or sharing details about your life. Keep any complaints brief and to the point. Remember that your manager wants to know how your coworker is affecting your job performance so that they can take action.

Remember to follow up after your conversation with your manager. Make sure that you’ve followed through by writing down everything you discussed. This will ensure that you stay on top of the problem and that your manager knows all the details.

6. Limit your interactions.

Our energy gets depleted when we are around people who drain us emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, or financially. We feel drained, tired, stressed, anxious, and depressed. In turn, we become less productive and effective.

Limiting our time with this coworker can help us cope with the situation. Limit contact to one hour per week. This allows you to maintain some semblance of sanity while still being able to work effectively.

You can manage them in smaller doses. For example, you might avoid having lengthy conversations with them at lunch or during meetings. Instead, focus on brief exchanges about what’s happening in your life.

At lunch or during meetings, stick close to those you find kind and supportive. Avoid spending too much time in groups where there are negative vibes.

In such a group, try to keep your interactions subtle. Ensure you don’t talk over others, interrupt, or dominate the conversation.

7. Be a better person.

This isn’t easy, but it’s important. You need to learn to separate yourself from negativity. It’s hard to think clearly when someone else’s emotions are pulling you under.

To remain calm and collected, you should practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness involves focusing on the here and now rather than dwelling on past events or worrying about future ones.

Mindful breathing exercises can also help. Try taking deep breaths, exhaling slowly, and letting go of all tension.

Remember that you are only human. No one is perfect and deserves your anger, resentment, or frustration.

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Dealing with a nasty coworker is difficult. If you take the right attitude, you can learn from the experience and emerge stronger and more capable. Realize that you are not alone in making blunders. You should keep your coworker’s behavior from affecting how well you do your job, even if you don’t like them.

If you do this, you risk damaging your professional reputation. Remember that your boss will only trust you if you can do your job. Your boss may start looking for a replacement for you immediately.

However hard it may be, you should instead set your emotions aside and focus on doing your very best. Prioritize your health and well-being. Do that, and you’ll be ready to handle any problems that crop up later.

And remember that if all else fails, you can always try to get new work. Our professional resume writers are here to assist you in preparing a winning application that will secure your dream job—one in which you will never have to deal with a difficult coworker. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

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