How to Work with Difficult Coworkers

It’s that time of year again when the sun shines more than usual as we approach spring and summer, making your colleagues more talkative than usual. Unfortunately, this may create some impatience and frustration if you’re trying to focus on your work.

How do you handle this? Here are a few tips.

Back to business

If your coworker is distracting with lots of non-work talk that lowers your productivity, use business as an excuse to get away. Tell him that you would love to talk, but that you have a deadline coming up soon, and you need to get back to work.

Stay calm and tactful

It doesn’t help if you lose your cool, or if you are rude or disrespectful. In fact, it will make things worse. Be professional when talking with the coworker if you have an issue.

Take some time to blow off steam

Don’t just react in the heat of the moment. Take a breather. Assess the situation and what you think the best course of action is before lashing out.

Make boundaries

If the annoying behavior continues, you need to speak up and make it clear to the person that he or she is out of bounds and that his or her behavior is affecting other people.

Bring up the issue at meetings

You can address the issue in a more general way at a department or team meeting, discussing guidelines. You can talk about the need for people to be respectful to others.

Work out compromises

Is there a way to make it a win-win situation for everybody?

Make quiet places

Ask your supervisor about setting up spaces that are specifically off-limits to chatter, a place where people can go unwind or refocus.

Get away

Go for a walk or take a break to recover and recharge.

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