13 Best Ways to Deal with Difficult Co-workers | 2023

At one point in our career, we’ve encountered a difficult coworker; even now, some of us still can’t figure out a way to deal with a difficult co-worker, and this can be quite depressing as we get to see them almost every work day.

Our co-workers are supposed to be our inspiration and moral support, but what happens when they become less friendly than we hope?

We solve the situation before it becomes threatening to our peace of mind. Difficult co-workers are not limited to one particular industry or company; you can find them just anywhere, so leaving your high-paying job because of an annoying co-worker doesn’t guarantee that you won’t find them in a different company, and it won’t solve anything.

Unfixed problems at work can often create health issues like a rise in blood pressure, stress, and other health-related problems, and therefore, you need to know how to resolve issues at work before leaving the office; it could be an over-demanding boss or someone you work with, probably an office gossiper, or someone that complains about everything.

You need to understand how their behaviour affects you directly, and that way, you can conclude what the problem is and how you can quickly deal with it without escalating it.

You can easily make it work out well with this overview. A difficult coworker openly sabotages your work reputation, one way or the other. They are office gossipers, bullies, complainers, and slackers. This overview will give you an insight into the Best 13 ways to deal with difficult coworkers. 

Why are Co-workers Important?

Before reading about how to deal with a co-worker, you should know why it is essential to have a healthy work relationship with them.

Your co-worker might be annoying or mean, but knowing why they are important will probably inspire you to be the bigger person and work things the right way.

When we have a good work relationship with our co-workers, we get motivated to work more, and they can even help us multi-task to meet deadlines.

Your co-worker will help you stay positive on that task you seem to be afraid of. They are supposed to be our friends and supporters, not the other way around.

Generally, you’re supposed to learn one or two from your co-worker, and you can only do that when you are in a good work relationship with them.

Not only will you get more creative when you are cool with your co-worker, but your health will also be well improved since you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing fully well your co-worker got your back.

Why is knowing how to deal with difficult coworkers important?

Taking revenge on a nasty coworker might feel good right now. But it’s something you should give some thought to. A single comment can escalate into outright hate. This can only increase the tension already present in life.

This kind of conflict may ruin your relationship with your coworkers. They won’t likely realize that you only act in self-defence when you strike out. Instead, you can be perceived as just another challenging employee.

Retaliating could also help harmful behaviour at work become more commonplace. This may eventually undermine any existing positive culture. If your objective was to increase your quality of life, that is hardly an ideal conclusion.

It can be tricky to handle a challenging coworker. The right to speak up for yourself and the right to a calm workplace is yours. Nonetheless, addressing a coworker in the office can be a little challenging. In this article, you can discover precisely what actions you should take to enhance your working environment.

Why you should deal with a difficult co-worker today

You mustn’t keep grudges, as this might make you bitter. When you deal with a situation early, you’ll be happy to know you have accomplished something that seems impossible.

It is just similar to that difficult co-worker at work. Dealing with a difficult colleague will make you more confident in yourself, and handling the situation well will not only remove the burden from your mind but also make your work more efficient. 

What to note before dealing with a difficult co-worker

Even though it is encouraging to face that difficult co-worker today, you should know that talking out your concerns with that co-worker doesn’t guarantee an immediate work relationship with the co-worker.

Finding a common ground with that difficult colleague might take days, months, or even a year. 

Sometimes, we are difficult co-workers, so we should always be considerate and have a good understanding. You might be the nightmare of someone at work while trying to work things out with difficult coworkers; you should always work on yourself too.

What to avoid when dealing with difficult workers 

When dealing with a difficult coworker, you’re supposed to be confident and stand your ground.

Here are things to avoid when dealing with a difficult co-coworker:

1. Avoid Getting Personal 

We know some co-workers can be annoying, and some are simply bullies; regardless of your co-worker’s behaviour towards you, you must avoid bringing personal issues into your workplace. 

2. Avoid Being Unprofessional

Be professional, and avoid arguments, gossiping, fighting, or unhealthy competition with your difficult co-worker. Being unprofessional won’t get you the desired results, but doing the right thing will help you deal with that difficult co-worker.

3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Voicing Your Concerns

Most of the time, we often believe we can deal with a difficult co-worker on our own. Although we can solve most of it independently, asking your superiors at work for assistance might help faster.

You can read this: 12 Tips for Dealing with Lazy Coworkers | 2023 Job Tips

And even if you plan on taking the bold step of talking it out with the co-worker proving difficult, you need to express what bothers you about them carefully. 

4. Your Tone (Don’t Feel Better Than Anyone)

Just because you find a few faults in a co-worker doesn’t mean you have to disrespect them while talking things out, as this can easily lead to more difficult phases at work.

How you speak to people matters, and how you address the issue is important. Make it professional and work on yourself, too.

13 Best Ways to Deal with Difficult Coworkers | 2023

 Here is the guide on How to deal with difficult coworkers:

1. Try Communicating With The Difficult Co-Worker

Communication is the key to every working relationship. Just like any typical relationship communicating is very important. Your work relationship with a colleague can be frustrating because they are difficult to work with.

Most time, we often misunderstand our co-workers as hard people, probably because of the way they talk to us, how they rate our work, and when they undermine our work credibility. This usually takes a toll on us and also makes us feel stressed. 

The best way to deal with a difficult co-worker making life stressful is by communicating directly with such an individual. Avoid texting them as this might create a misunderstanding, and you wouldn’t like to further worsen the situation.

Try interacting with them while you discuss your major concerns, and be confident when you speak. 

2. Try to study their personality

We all want a smooth working relationship with our colleagues at work, but we don’t always get what we want, and sometimes we can work towards achieving a positive work relationship with them.

At times we often forget that not everyone will behave the way we want them to, and we certainly cannot control that, but trying to see from their point of view, and understanding the person they are, will ensure a smooth work relationship and you might end up being best friends.

Before concluding that your co-worker is rude or demanding, try studying their personality and understand if that’s how they behave, as this will help you understand them better.

Their way of communicating could be what is getting you upset about them; once you understand what could be the problem, resolving them will be easy. In addition, this is one of the ways to deal with difficult a difficult coworker.

3. Accept them for who they are

Our problem with our co-workers is that we don’t fancy their way of life or their personality, maybe we find them annoying, or they are just unnecessarily loud in the office; it could be anything.

In other to deal with these types of difficult co-workers, you need first to understand that no one is perfect and not everyone will please you.

Then try understanding them without judging, and make it work out, you don’t have to force or bend yourself to fit in their life, but you can try by accepting them for who/what they are, as this will help you in the long run.

In addition, this is one of the ways to deal with a difficult coworker.

4. Be professional

In all you do, be professional. If you plan on talking things out with your co-worker, you need to understand they might be oblivious to their behaviour in the office. Therefore you need to apply professionalism when engaging them in a conversation about them.

We all have our ways of reacting to people telling us things about ourselves, and some might have gone well because we like how we are corrected, and some not so well because of how we were spoken to.

When you decide to walk up to a difficult co-worker, you must mind your tone by keeping the conversation neutral; respect them while trying to make them understand what is wrong.

Most importantly always remain calm and don’t see the meeting like you’re meeting with an enemy. They are to be seen as a friend that would help your work much easier. You must avoid anything that makes you look like a difficult co-worker.

5. Understand why you need them before approaching

Not all difficult co-workers are worth losing sleep over. You need to ask yourself if they are important to your next projects or your health and if they affect you. If they do, you must try talking things out with them today.

Co-workers are our allies towards success, and they are to be important. When a co-worker is proving difficult, you need to be patient and understand their personality and engage them in a conversation that could help better your work relationship.

Also, this is one of the ways to deal with a difficult coworker.

6. Seek Advice From Others And Get Their Opinion

As much as it is important to resolve conflicts at work, it is important to note if you are the only one finding it difficult to have a positive work relationship with that co-worker or if you’re overreacting because you don’t enjoy their personality.

You can find out by seeking advice from a friend at work to get their opinion on the co-worker that seems to bother you.

Getting another view on the issue can also shed more light on solving the conflict with the difficult co-worker.

While trying to get another view, avoid gossiping or giving offensive remarks about the person, as things go wrong easily with this behaviour.

7. Know when to engage them in such interaction

Time and place matter when trying to resolve a work-related issue. Knowing when you can engage a difficult co-worker in a conversation; you wouldn’t want to talk to them when they’re feeling stressed about the day’s work or in public when everyone can listen to your conversation, which could be offensive.

Decide on an ideal place where you’d feel comfortable voicing your concern and politely ask them if they’d be willing to give you some of their time.

Regardless of the outcome, you’ll feel better for being the bigger person. In addition, this is one of the ways to deal with a difficult coworker.

8. Avoid Being Aggressive

Being aggressive towards a co-worker will not improve your work relationship, it will only make matters worst, and it might end up painting you as a toxic co-worker.

When you decide to solve a conflict by speaking to a difficult colleague face to face, make sure your tone and choice of words are not in any way insinuating you are better than them, also, avoid getting in a physical fight with them.

Some people can be annoying, but you should always avoid situations that will lead to you being aggressive.

9. Avoid Them Till You Come Up With a Better Idea

If you don’t trust yourself enough around them, avoid them for a while until you develop a better way to deal with the difficult coworker.

Avoiding them doesn’t mean you are afraid of or don’t respect them. It is just a way to avoid anything that would depress you.

You can devise an excuse that would help you stay away from them until you get bet confident enough to resolve the issue.

10. Positive Relationships Only

Most times, difficult co-workers get under our skins because we allow them to, you can make this about yourself; by creating positive energy within you and focusing on people and things that matter.

Instead of focusing on that difficult co-worker, you can channel the energy into something more productive.

Also, to know the types of annoying coworkers in a workplace, you can check this: 10 Types of Annoying Coworkers and How to Deal with them

11. Be confident 

We all look forward to a positive work relationship, but sometimes we find ourselves with difficult co-workers who don’t appreciate our work. Some are bullies and gossipers, among others.

To function positively at work, we need great teamwork. To help achieve that, we need our co-workers to be great; in a situation whereby you find a co-worker that is being difficult, you need to speak out and interact with them.

Sometimes they might be obnoxious about their actions, which is good because you can easily correct them and continue working with them.

If they know their actions, you need to be confident and set boundaries without appearing aggressive.

12. Say pleasant words to difficult co-workers

If you are interested in keeping a good working relationship with that difficult co-worker, you also need to work on yourself; by understanding their kind of person and complimenting them occasionally.

Compliments are pleasant words that make us feel good about ourselves. What you dish out will return to you.

Saying some nice words to a difficult co-worker will not only make them feel better, but it will also make you feel better about yourself while your work relationship improves.

13. Talk to your superior(s)

When you feel the situation is beyond what you can handle and if it affects your work and health, you can report to your supervisor or the HR department to lay out your complaints.

It is advisable not to wait till conflicts get out of hand before visiting your supervisor. Be neutral when giving your complaints.

Don’t make it sound like you’re better than your co-workers, as this might paint the wrong picture. In addition, this is one of the ways to deal with a difficult coworker

 FAQs on how to deal with a difficult coworker

When should you avoid a difficult coworker?

When a coworker is difficult, you should avoid them for your sanity.

When should I inform HR of a difficult coworker?

Informing the HR dept about a difficult coworker is appropriate. You should handle the situation early.

How can I deal with a difficult coworker?

Avoid revenge traps, and don’t retaliate when they are annoyed.
Don’t confront a difficult coworker in a heated moment; call them out on their actions with a gentle tone.

Can you get a stress ball?

Yes, you can get them a stress ball for peace to reign in the office.


A difficult coworker can be quite dramatic; they usually make working annoying because there is nothing you can do to please them. They are usually the ones that make one get tired of going to work.

Whether you confront a difficult coworker or avoid them, you might still find them offensive occasionally, but confronting them will give you peace of mind.

I hope this overview gives you the answers to your questions on how to deal with difficult coworkers.



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