Maybe it’s a recent change or a long festering issue. Regardless, your interactions with a colleague have become so toxic that you’re thinking about getting a new job. That probably isn’t the solution. Plus, you realize the COVID-19 pandemic led to huge job losses and an incredibly competitive market. I love helping people land their dream jobs but if the problem isn’t the place but the person you may be better off staying put. The trick is learning how to get along with difficult coworkers. It may not be easy but few worthwhile things ever are. Here’s some ideas.
Address the Issue
It’s possible the source of your unhappiness is blissfully unaware of their contribution to your malaise. Try to find some time when the two of you can be alone to discuss your concerns. Don’t bring it up in front of others and don’t be accusatory. Instead, say things like, “I feel hurt when you speak to me that way,” rather than, “why are you such a jerk?” If you calmly discuss what is happening, it’s possible the problem will be resolved through dialogue.
Remember They Are Unique
Your co-worker isn’t your dad, older sister, or junior high bully. Yet they may behave in a similar fashion, triggering a flight or fight response that over time can be incredibly damaging to your health. So, take a step back. Walk around the building or do some deep breathing in a hallway. Recognize your coworker’s unique qualities. If possible, come up with a positive attribute. Don’t behave like they’re a particularly difficult family member. And be happy you won’t have to stay with them over the holidays.
See It From Their POV
Although there are many versions of this quote, I like how author Brad Meltzer put it when he said, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” Never forget that. It isn’t the easiest advice to take when someone is being mean to you. Still, when someone behaves poorly it’s often a reflection not of their malice but of their fear. Vow to be a calming, supportive presence in your life. While it may be a bad idea to get too personal, it’s possible they’ll share something from their past that gives you a clue why they are acting as they are in the present.
If your position doesn’t require constant interaction with the person who is making you want to quit, limit your time with them. This isn’t the best advice on how to get along with difficult coworkers but if you’ve tried other approaches and failed, disengaging may be the best answer. Resist the urge to complain about this person behind their back or traffic in workplace gossip. Don’t be part of the problem. If you can, tune them out.
Speak to a Supervisor
If someone is bullying, aggressive, or otherwise behaving in a way that’s affecting your job, you may need to speak with a supervisor. When you do, have specific information about what has happened including dates and times. A helpful mediator either in the form of your boss or someone from HR may be necessary to reach a solution.
No matter what your approach, practice gratitude daily. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for –– even challenging colleagues !This difficult person represents an obstacle to overcome and doing so will make you stronger. Work to recognize the many blessings of your life rather than focusing on the negative. With time and a bit of effort, the situation can get better.
Take time to notice the blessings and the positive aspects of your work. Be mindful –– stay in the present and appreciate all the good things in your life. Don’t let one negative colleague sour you on the entire experience. One study suggested that practicing gratitude can reduce anxiety and depression. It can also improve productivity. By feeling joy and being thankful, you will begin to perceive everything in a more positive light –– even a difficult coworker.