What to do If You're Having Problems with a Colleague

What to do If You're Having Problems with a Colleague

Maybe you have a coworker who shoots down all your ideas, or perhaps a colleague always sings along loudly when listening to music through his or her earbuds. Whatever the reason, if you’re having problems with a colleague, it can affect how happy you are at work and have a negative impact on your performance. So how can you address this?

Remain calm
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that it’s critical to remain calm. Getting angry or upset is not going to help you — in fact, it may even make the situation worse. So, take a deep breath and count to 10 before taking any action. Remember: You’re at work, so you need to be seen as centered and in control, as the article “9 Useful Strategies to Dealing With Difficult People at Work” in Business Insider advises. The more professional you are, the better it will be for your situation in the long term. 

Examine the situation objectively
If you’re having a problem with your colleague, the chances are he or she also finds you challenging to deal with. That’s why you need to rise above it all and examine the situation objectively. Is your colleague wrong, or is there some truth to what he or she is saying? Are you being overly sensitive? Is there a reason for your colleague’s behavior or actions that you haven’t considered? When you look at the situation from all angles, you might be surprised at what you learn. For example, if your colleague always shoots down your ideas, perhaps he or she is trying to say you should put more work into preparing your pitches. Similarly, the coworker who sings along to his or her music might not realize that he or she is distracting you.  

Have a conversation
In some cases, it might be necessary to have a conversation with your coworker to settle your differences and clear the air. Ask him or her when would be a good time to talk and prepare what you want to say. During the conversation, listen carefully, and don’t interrupt. Perhaps your colleague isn’t aware that you’re upset or maybe there’s a good reason for his or her behavior. Try to find common ground and work out a solution from there.

Involve your supervisor
If talking to your colleague doesn’t resolve the situation, you might have to involve your supervisor. Managers are usually trained in conflict resolution, so you and your colleague will both be given the opportunity to express your concerns. However, you should be prepared to concede a little if that’s the only thing that will resolve the conflict.

Interpersonal conflict at work can have a profound impact on you and affect your overall productivity. But when you’re proactive in addressing it and looking for a solution, you can improve the situation while at the same time honing your people skills — and that in turn can help you advance in the long run.