Did you get along with everyone on your team as well as you hoped? Did you feel like there was a constant struggle to see eye to eye with your co-workers? Did you feel like some of your co-workers were constantly undermining your ideas and efforts?
Most workplaces have the occasional challenging co-worker, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up trying to make things better. In fact, working alongside people who challenge you and keep you on your toes is an excellent thing. It means that everyone is bringing their best game to the table, because if they weren’t, they would be out of job. However, it can also be exhausting and frustrating. If you work with difficult people, read on for tips on how to get along with them.
Have a clear, firm boundary
There will always be some people who challenge you and your ideas, but you don’t have to let them make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy. Before you try to work through any issues you may have with your colleagues, make sure you have clear boundaries in place. Have a firm expectation about the kind of language and tone that you are willing to accept when working with others. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, let them know immediately so that they know to stop. If someone is being hostile toward you, speak to your Human Resources representative or manager as soon as possible so that they can address it. By having clear, firm boundaries in place, you can prevent some of the issues that come with working alongside difficult people.
Don’t take it personally
When you are trying to get along with someone who challenges you, it can be easy to take their actions personally. You can start to think that they don’t like you or that they don’t want to work with you. However, this is rarely the case. Challenging co-workers don’t do it because they are trying to attack you or make your life difficult; they do it because they are trying to find better solutions. If you make it a personal attack, it’s easy to feel attacked or defensive. However, if you don’t take it personally, then you can actively try to find solutions for the issues you are facing together. You can learn from the experiences of your challenging co-workers without taking it as a personal attack.
Focus on what you can control
Remember: you can only control your own actions. You can’t control how other people act or how they feel about things. So, instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can control. If you feel like a co-worker is trying to undermine you or get in your way, you can try to focus on ways to get around it. If you feel like a co-worker is constantly interrupting you, you can focus on finding times and places where you can speak freely. There is a lot that you can control. You can control your own actions, the way you approach situations, and how you respond to other people. You can’t control how others act or feel, but you can control how you respond to them.
Hold regular check-in meetings with your team
You may think of meetings as a waste of time. However, if you are working alongside difficult people, they can be an excellent way to check in with each other. Hold regular check-in meetings with your team so that everyone can voice their concerns and let off any steam they need to. This gives everyone the opportunity to let their frustrations out and be heard. It also provides a forum in which you can actively address any issues that are coming up on the team. If someone has a concern, or if something is getting in the way of progress, the meeting is a good place to let everyone know. If someone has a problem with your work, it’s best to address it as soon as possible so that it doesn’t affect the team’s ability to work together smoothly.
Remember that change is constant
Everyone brings their own unique skills and challenges to the table. You may feel like a co-worker is too loud, interrupts you too often, or is difficult to work with in other ways. However, they may also be the person who comes up with the best solution to a problem you are facing, or they may be excellent at managing a project. The point is that people are always changing. Even the most difficult person on your team is probably capable of doing amazing things — they just need the right environment to make it happen. Remember that people are always changing and that you never know when someone may surprise you with a valuable contribution to your team. By not letting difficult co-workers get in the way of your productivity, you are missing out on valuable contributions they could be making to your team.
Recognize and appreciate the value they bring
As you recognize the value that challenging co-workers bring to the table, you can actively appreciate it. If someone is talking too much in meetings or interrupting you, try to figure out why they are doing it. If a co-worker is constantly challenging you or bringing up issues that you are trying to ignore, try to actively listen and figure out why they are saying what they are saying. Do this not because you want to find reasons to defend these behaviours, but because you want to understand them. When you understand why someone is doing something, you can respond to it in a more effective way. Try to actively recognize the value that challenging co-workers bring to your team.
Ask for what you need directly
If you aren’t getting what you need from a co-worker, ask for it directly. If you need the co-worker to stop talking in meetings, let them know. If you need them to stop interrupting you, let them know. If a co-worker is constantly challenging you, try to find ways to work with them in a way that is beneficial to both of you. Again, this is not because you want to let their behaviours slide, but because you want to actively work with them in a way that benefits both of you. Ask for what you need directly. Be clear, firm, and open to negotiation. If a co-worker continues to get in your way, find ways to address the issue that are beneficial to both of you.
Make sure your actions match your words
Finally, make sure that your actions match your words. If you spend all day talking about how you want to work with challenging co-workers, but then you get frustrated and snappy when they are around, you are sending mixed messages. If you want to get along with difficult co-workers, make sure that your actions match your words. By taking these steps, you can get along with even the most challenging co-workers. You can learn from them and let them learn from you. You can help to create an environment where everyone feels as though their contributions are valued.