The people you work with can have a major impact on the way you feel about your job. Your relationships with your coworkers can elevate your day and your mood — or they can bring you way down.

You’ll connect with some coworkers better than others in life. You’ll make friends at work, which is a wonderful thing and you will also meet challenging or otherwise annoying coworkers. Some of these people can really get in your way — or at least on your nerves — if you aren’t careful. So, it’s a good idea to think about how to work with them effectively.


Here are 5 tips for interacting with some of the more challenging coworkers you could meet along the way:

  • 1. The coworker who acts like the boss

  • Some coworkers act more like your boss than your peer. They often tell you what to do, issuing directions and corrections without solicitation from you. These coworkers often end up doing themselves in. So, if you just wait a little while, you might find your problem simply goes away — literally.

    However, there are lots of ways to deal with a coworker who acts more like your boss in the moment. Let your coworker know how you feel. You’re equals, so don’t be intimidated. Tell him your preferences when he tries to forge ahead without consulting you. And, let him know that you’ll ask for his advice if you want it. Be polite but direct.

    If the problem still persists, you may even consider talking with your actual boss about the matter.


  • 2. The needy coworker

  • Coworkers help each other out once in a while, of course. But, there is a big difference between that and covering for some else’s incompetence. A coworker who is perpetually badgering you for help can really drain your time and energy.

    You might start by trying to send this coworker some subtle hints that show you’re beginning to resent all of the time you’re spending coming to his aid such as being a bit shorter with your answers.

    However, vague social cues don’t always work the way you might hope. So, prepare to be a little more direct. You might have to tell your coworker, straight up, that you “just don’t have time to help right now.” Then, do it again. Eventually, your coworker will find another alternative if you aren’t coming through.


  • 3. The office gossiper

  • A little office gossiping is bound to happen once in a while. It’s only natural when people work closely together.

    But, some coworkers take gossiping (about the boss, other coworkers, clients…) way too far and they can bring the mood of the whole office down. No one wants to be whispered about behind their backs. Gossiping at work can be divisive and degrade trust and morale.

    So, resist the temptation to engage in petty gossip yourself. Remind yourself that gossiping too much will hurt your relationships at work, not help them, and step back. Setting a good example is one of the best things you can do to curtail office gossip.


  • 4. The “Sad Sally”

  • When a coworker complains, it can have a real impact on the people around them. You might find yourself chiming in, especially if you’re an empathetic person. This comes from a natural impulse to help but, it can cause the same tense and negative feelings to arise in you.

    Even if they don’t talk about work, a negative coworker can be a real drag. Maybe they vent about personal matters all the time. Or, they just have a really terrible attitude that isn’t fun to be around.

    Negativity can be really toxic. Keep your distance; never reward the behavior with your attention. It’s nice to be kind to someone when they’re having a bad day, but you shouldn’t spend too much of your time and energy on it when it’s a regular occurrence.

    Finally, be positive in spite of their moods and behavior. You’ll be demonstrating a better way rather than stooping to their level.


  • 5. The credit hog

  • Some coworkers will do just about anything to impress the boss in an attempt to get ahead. They’ll take credit for a team’s work, for your idea, or for anything else they think might work to their advantage.

    If you find yourself working with someone like this, it can be really frustrating.

    Don’t waste any time correcting the situation. Set the record straight right away. Be calm but direct. State that you collaborated on this project, or that the idea was yours but that you’re glad your coworker is excited about it. You also might want to consider following up with your colleague privately about the incident.

    It’s possible that your coworker behaves this way in part because no one has ever challenged them. If you do so, you might be surprised at how quickly the problem resolves.


The next time you feel yourself getting sucked into a negative workplace vortex, don’t let it drain you, try one of these techniques to deal with it, and bring some positivity back into your office.


(written by: Whitney)

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