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Dealing WIth Hostile Co-Workers

Tags:  Difficult co-worker, Job stress, Hostile employees

It's easy to feel powerless when you have to deal with a co-worker who is unpleasant to be around. Whether they are uncooperative, have annoying habits, are disrespectful or are just down-right bullies, hostile co-workers can make the work environment toxic.


While building a healthy, happy team is the ideal, sometimes it's not practical. So it may be that you will have to work around someone who has a chip on his shoulder. That's when it may become your role to act as mediator or investigator to determine the underlying cause of their hostility.


To prepare yourself for dealing with a co-worker who routinely is difficult, follow these Guideposts:


1. Don't react – clarify real issue


Sometimes a difficult employee's reaction is superficial and the underlying cause is not immediately clear. That's when some detective work is in order. The best way to understand someone's negative reaction or hostile response to a situation is to probe further.


Remember that old commercial, ""Never let them see you sweat?"" Now is the time to put those words into action. Don't react to negative comments or empty statements. Instead continue to ask questions until you get to the heart of the matter. Find out what the real issue is before defining a solution.


2. Ignore hostility – respond factually


It may be a difficult situation, but your best course of action is to persevere. Ignore the hostile co-worker's tantrums or continuing negativity and search for the truth.


Remain calm and unemotional. Choose instead to point out just the facts as you know them. Help the co-worker to understand the situation.


3. Summarize next steps


Because the hostile co-worker is better at complaining then taking corrective steps it may be up to you to provide a specific plan of action.


First, offer your assistance. You may be able to achieve together what the co-worker has not been able to achieve on his own. Second, confirm what the next steps will be, whether you both will be involved or if he will handle it on his own. Finally, confirm your plan to follow up. Don't just leave him to his own devices; you could wind up back in the same situation.


Dealing with difficult or hostile co-workers can be challenging. And handled properly, can still be productive.

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