How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

How to Deal with a Difficult Coworker

When you put a group of people together (like in an office), a lot of different personalities will be present. You’ll get along great with some of them, but not everybody. That’s okay! But, when you work together, you have to cooperate with everyone so you get work done. When you work with difficult coworkers, that can be hard to do.

5 Types of Difficult Coworkers

You’ll have to deal with each difficult coworker differently. Check out these 5 types of difficult coworkers and learn how to deal with them.

The Negative Nancy (or Nick)

A Negative Nancy (or Nick) is always in a bad mood and doesn’t like anything. They’re always complaining about something – their job, the company, their boss, the customers, their health, and their money. (If they come into some cash or get a promotion, you’ll hear about that, too. They want you to be jealous of them, so you’re miserable, too.)

If you spend too much time with a Negative Nancy, you’ll start to think negatively, too. So, limit the time you spend with them as much as possible and avoid them completely when you can.

When you can’t avoid the Negative Nancy, and they start complaining about their job or try to get you to complain about yours, tell them you like your job and prefer to focus on the positive aspects. If they keep talking about their problems at work, suggest they bring them up with HR or their boss.

If the Negative Nancy still won’t stop complaining to you, talk to your boss or HR and tell them how the Negative Nancy is affecting your job performance. They’ll probably have their own ideas on how to address the difficult coworker, since a persistent negative attitude that impacts the work environment might require disciplinary action.

The Chatterbox

The Chatterbox usually means well and is a very friendly person. They just want to share every single thought they have with you. They’re not trying to cause any problems, but they make it difficult to get your work done.

Dealing with a Chatterbox is a lot easier than dealing with a Negative Nancy. Don’t tell them to be quiet – that’s just rude. Instead, tell them that you’re having a hard time concentrating and would like to hear the rest of their story later, when you’re not working.

The Gossip

The Gossip knows everything about everybody and wants to share it.

How you deal with the Gossip will depend on what kind of information they’re sharing. If they’re sharing information about the company that you don’t think will make it through the official communication channels, pay attention to the Gossip. But, take the information with a grain of salt – there is likely some fiction mixed in.

If the Gossip is sharing personal information, however, change the subject or tell them you don’t feel comfortable discussing someone behind their back.

Whenever you interact with the Gossip, be careful not to share information about yourself that you don’t want to get out. Also, make sure you don’t spread any information the Gossip has shared with you because you run the risk of becoming a Gossip, too.

The Bully

The Bully intimidates you, yells at you, insults you, and otherwise puts you down. They might talk over you at meetings or criticize you in front of your boss. They’ll notice every single one of your mistakes and bring it up constantly. They might even spread lies about you to other coworkers.

To deal with the Bully, stand up for yourself:

  1. First, tell the bully specifically what behavior you want them to stop.
  2. Then, tell them how it’s affecting your job.
  3. Finally, tell them that the behavior will not be put up with in the future. If it continues, you will ask for help from your boss and/or HR.

If the Bully still does not stop the behavior, then follow through and bring the problem to your boss and HR. Make sure to keep documentation of the coworker’s behavior and make a note if anyone else witnessed it.

The Non-Responder

The Non-Responder is a constant in any office. You sent them an email a few days ago, and they still haven’t responded. You send them a few follow-up emails, leave a voicemail, send an IM – and crickets.

A lot of time the Non-Responder will get the job done (often at the last possible second), but they’re terrible at communicating. Because you don’t know if they really have finished their part of the project, you might think you’ll have to do their part, too (or you might think the project won’t be finished at all).

The best way to deal with the Non-Responder is to politely confront them. Tell them that moving forward, you would appreciate a response within a few days so you can stay organized and know that everything will be done on time. If that still doesn’t work, schedule a meeting with your bosses and lay out a communication plan for future projects.