How to Deal with a Challenging Co-Worker

How you handle yourself with a difficult or challenging co-worker can speak volumes about you to management and your peers. While there’s no need to be a “push-over” – handling someone with tact is bound to get you more respect in the workplace.

Here are a few things you can do to always come out as the better person.

1. Stop taking things personally. We all face challenging and difficult people at different times in our lives, whether on the job and even at home. Don’t let these encounters feel like a personal attack, in which you need to be defensive to win. Instead, realize that the person is likely experiencing their own set of challenges and is expressing them at everyone in their life. When you stop taking things personally, you can detach from their behavior.

2. Recognize different personality styles. Not all people are the same, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. The more aware you are of what makes people tick, what pushes their buttons, and how they interact with others, the more likely you are to engage with them in a productive way. For example, if you find that someone is highly defensive when they receive feedback, be sure to sing them extra praises when they do something right. This will help to break down their barriers.

3. Don’t speak or react out of anger. Anger can get you into trouble, it makes you say things you don’t mean, react without being logical or sensical, and isn’t an emotion to express haphazardly. It’s not to say you can’t get angry, just don’t react while angry. Take a moment to walk, take a breath, get outside – don’t vent to co-workers or throw fuel on the fire. Instead, remember a mantra such as, “This too will pass.” Or turn on some tunes that can help shift your energy. When you deal with people while you are angry, it’s likely you’ll regret how you handled the situation.

A challenging co-worker can cause a lot of issues at work, if you let them. Instead, rethink how you handle the people that push your buttons, after all, when you are upset with another person, it is you who is most affected by someone at the end of the day.

Bridging the Generational Co-Worker Gap

In today’s workforce, you could easily be a Baby-Boomer with a Generation X boss, while working alongside some Millennials. These generational gaps can sometimes create a creative and effective office environment … and sometimes not.

With each generation come new values, new beliefs, and new ideals about work, ethics, and freedom.

Currently, we are seeing five generations within the workforce: the Traditionalists (before 1946), the Baby-Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1976), the Millennials (1977-1997) and Gen 2020 (after 1997).

For an even better look at these generation gaps, take a look at this chart by the University of Michigan Health Systems (2002) which explains a little more about the differences in generations.

Some of the biggest differences employers and co-workers have is that, while the Baby Boomer generations have a strong, ambitious drive to succeed on the job, those in Generation X strive to have more balance between their job and personal life. This can sometimes create conflict, as Gen X may be seen by older generations as being ambivalent about their position.

Additional challenges come from the vast changes in technology over the years, leaving dedicated Boomers feeling out of the loop and behind the times – when in actuality, their dedication and commitment is as instrumental as the technological advances of the younger generations.

While the differences may seem subtle, there are implications for both the company and the co-workers. It is, of course, vitally important that the different generations learn how to balance each other out, utilizing their strengths and weaknesses and work together in a more empowering way.

Overall, it’s a matter of finding what works for the generations you work with, valuing where they are coming from, and honoring their personal work ethics to create a balanced and harmonious work environment where every generation can thrive.

What have you seen in your workplace regarding the different generations? Do you see it is a challenge or an asset?