I have always had the mindset of: I can work with you even if I don’t like you. We have a common goal for our unit and we are both old enough to put differences aside to get it done. Why? Because I only see you Mon-Fri from 8-5, after that, chuck the deuces and head home.
But, I’m finding that for some people, that is a hard concept to grasp.
For example: Person A just cannot get along with fellow coworker Person B. There is bad blood between the two from years of pent up frustration and being made to feel like nothing they do is right. Person B is just a difficult person who thinks everything they do can’t be replaced or replicated. As a matter of fact, Person B could walk in the room and just breath and Person A is immediately annoyed with their presence because Person B treats Person A like they are just not on their level professionally, intellectually or any other “lly” word you can think of. And one day, Person A just has had enough with Person B and the belittling way they talk down to them. An argument ensues, feelings are hurt and now there is a meeting with the supervisor or HR and both Persons are written up for their behavior.
Now think, even knowing the history between the two, why does Person A continue to let Person B get to them to the point where HR gets involved?
Now, don’t get me wrong, some people are just hard to work with and there is nothing you can do to get past them being the office tyrant, jerk, snitch, whatever you want to refer to them as. There are people who just are horrible individuals on a professional and personal level. But remember this, that person is not who your focus should be on when you come to work. Your focus should be on you and what you must get accomplished that day.
I have worked in a variety of places. Newsrooms, retail, government etc., and I have always had that one coworker who just really knows how to push my buttons. That person can walk in a room, be their usual, in my opinion, useless self, and can manage to make me forget my religion, ethics, and the bills I have to pay. I’m only human. I have had words with coworkers about their behavior and lack of team work or just not pulling their weight altogether. But the older I get, and the more work experience I have gained, I learned, through trial and error, that you are only responsible for you and your behavior. (These are my thoughts and opinions none of this is set in stone and you can handle the situation anyway you deem appropriate.) You can deal with a difficult coworker in a variety of ways. Keep it short but respectful when you have to interact with them, try to see things from their point of view, if they come at you wrong, ignore them and carry on with what you set out to do. At the end of the day, your goal is to get the job done by any means necessary. No other grown person’s behavior can stop you from doing what your job description tells you to do.
This is usually a question that people ask in interviews anyway. How do you deal with difficult coworkers? More times than not the answer you give is what was mentioned above anyhow. So, be like the Nike swoosh and “Just Do It.”
It’s easier said than done some days, but in the words of a former manager, “play nice is the sandbox kiddo even when you want to push their face in said sand.”