SELF HELP RESOURCE - Work / Workplace Relationships



All of us know people who are difficult to work with and our first thought may revolve around avoiding them. To get a clearer idea of certain people who can be difficult to work with, below are a few characteristics that they may possess:

  • Are stubborn and non-cooperative
  • Spread rumours and gossip
  • Don't do their share of work
  • Are critical and discouraging
  • Have a negative attitude

Every workplace has some people like this. It can often be draining for us to have to deal with or be on the receiving end of such behaviours and as much as we would like to ignore it or leave these people alone, it is not always an option to do so. In fact, if we do NOT respond appropriately, the problem behaviour could even get exaggerated.

So, what can you do? Your company may have specific guidelines for you to follow, but here are some general strategies that apply in most situations.

Talk to Others

Are others facing the same problem or are you the only one who finds the behaviour problematic? If the latter is true, it is possible that you may need to rethink the situation to see if perhaps it was a one-time occurrence or if something triggered that reaction from the other person. On the other hand, if others share this view, chances are that there is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed. However, there certainly can still be cases wherein their difficult behaviour is directed only towards you and not others.

Remain Calm

Some people just seem to ‘push our buttons'. We feel irritated and tend to lash out. As challenging as it might get at times, it is important to stay calm and refuse to play along even if the other person tries to provoke you. When you stay calm, you come across as being mature and in control of the situation.

Communicate Directly with The Person

Share your feedback in concrete ways to the concerned person and explain in what way their behaviour is causing problems or comes across as offensive. Make sure that you are in a private place where you cannot be overheard by others. Keep the discussion to the current issue and do not bring up other issues from the past or speak against the character of the person.


Communication also involves listening with the intention to understand. Allow the person to communicate their perspective. Could there be genuine reasons for the behaviour of which you were unaware? Are there needs that could be met in a better way?

Focus on Behaviours or Situations That Can Be Changed

There is no point in harping on what has already taken place or on something over which the person has little or no control. Instead, focus on steps that the person can take going forward. Or perhaps the steps you can take now to make things better for yourself. For example, communicate over emails when delegating work to the other person or when looking for a progress update so that there is a written record for everything. If the other person’s lack of cooperation is increasing your workload, see if you can speak to a supervisor to have a more manageable workload.

Give and Expect Respect

Do not put down or belittle the person and avoid sarcasm or offensive language. Avoid speaking against the person to other co-workers and do not encourage jokes at their expense. At the same time, you do need to make it clear that you will not accept a disrespectful tone or language either.

Keep it Professional

Whatever you may feel about an individual's personal habits or behaviours, restrict the discussion to concerns that have an impact on professional life. Personal likes and dislikes have no place here. Remember also not to take any reaction personally.

Escalate if Necessary

It may be necessary to communicate to your own manager regarding an ongoing situation. Convey the problems you are facing, the steps you have taken and your own recommendations. Try to remain positive and be willing to solve the problem.


Latest Comments

Aamina Shahab Qidwae on 02 Aug 2022, 16:20 PM

Need help

uthaygce on 01 Dec 2021, 15:22 PM


chandran1984 on 14 Nov 2018, 19:20 PM

True & helpful definitely... Have come across such people..

31291 on 18 Jul 2017, 16:45 PM

Practically possible

NiviMeeiyow on 18 Apr 2017, 00:27 AM


423200 on 10 Jun 2016, 07:45 AM

Nice information!!

AB2027 on 03 Jun 2016, 08:08 AM

All have been crossed but good to knock me few more points. Thanks

AB2027 on 03 Jun 2016, 08:08 AM

All have been crossed but good to knock me few more points. Thanks

495875 on 03 Jun 2016, 05:54 AM

helpful article

chandrujs on 03 Jun 2016, 04:21 AM

nice one