How to Deal with Difficult People at Work?

What are the Difficult Work Situations? How to handle them? When should you Seek Help from Higher authorities? Should you Leave such workplace?
How to Deal With Difficult People at Work

Everyone faces typical and difficult situations at their workplace. You may also have experienced such situations where you have to deal with difficult coworkers. Now, sometimes it is manageable, but not always. So, if you are looking for a way how to deal with difficult people at work, you have arrived at the right place. 

1. What are the Difficult Work Situations?

Office work: how to deal with difficult people at work 1

You might have faced a few or all of the below-mentioned tricky situations at your workplace.

  • You were about to leave the office when suddenly you are asked to stay back for some work or an urgent meeting that might take a couple of hours or more.
  • You are sincere with your work, but your coworker or teammate is unreliable and irresponsible, so you have to say no to your boss regarding some project work that you have to handle with him. It may be a cause of concern for the boss. (See PhD Vs PsyD in Psychology)
  • You believe that a situation or decision is wrong, and you have to push back and explain everything to your manager.
  • You will find coworkers who are ready for the fun gala, causing distractions in the workplace for other employees as well. They are always busy gossiping and even indulge in bullying.
  • It was your creative idea and someone else took credit for it. It is very common in any workplace or in any creative field.
  • Your trusted colleague speaks harshly with you or makes you feel little while you seek his or her advice on something.
  • A situation where you have to give negative or awkward feedback to your coworker. (See The advantages of working from home)

2. How to Deal with Difficult People at Work?

Illustration of a handshake with terms of respect written.


It is necessary to address the problem and try to solve things at your workplace to give your best performance with concentration. A distracted and disturbed mind cannot focus and hence you can face issues related to your performance. Take a look at the following methods that can be applied in your workplace about how to deal with difficult people at work. 

  • Identify the issue: It is a critical and necessary question because you need to figure out whether the other person is the issue or you are the issue. Are you sure that you are not overreacting? Examine things, yourself, people around you, and the situations before you take any action. 
  • Analyze the issue: If you are facing issues with a trusted coworker, then before beginning the complaining program, you should analyze things. Is it happening frequently or was it just a one-time misunderstanding? Is your coworker using your ideas always or does he or she just happen to have the same idea once? Try to observe what’s happening and solve that without extending the drama, if the matter is small and negligible. (See Internal Vs External Locus of Control)
  • Understand the intentions of difficult coworkers: Now, if they are being problematic towards you and causing problems for you, it is necessary to find out the real intentions behind their behavior. Why do they keep blaming you for every failed project? Why are they ruining your image at your workplace? Is it to motivate you or to demotivate you?
  • Try to develop bonds: Next in how to deal with difficult people at work is to join their mutual circle. Without being in their circle, you can hardly understand their intentions. So, to figure things out, try to be close to the coworkers with whom that difficult coworker is often talking.
  • Have one-to-one conversation: It is always better to talk to your coworker privately before taking any action. You are a grown-up person and if things are manageable at your level, then you should give it a try at least. 
  • Maintain your calm: The discussion or conversation should not be a heated one. You need to be calm and control your temper. If you are planning to use your anger to trigger a specific behavior that your coworker is hiding from others, then it is your call. 
  • Show respect: It is your workplace and not your college where you can just become rowdy and act as you like. The next thing in how to deal with difficult people at work is to understand that coworkers are not your college mates and hence they should always be treated with respect. No matter if they are younger than you, giving respect will earn you respect as well.
  • Discuss with your friends and other colleagues: Yes, you should share if you are not able to resolve the issues and seek out their advice and help. Maybe they can tell you a solution that they applied when they faced a similar situation at their workplace. Do not let your anger decide your actions. 
  • Ignore inconsequential things: Focus on the things and steps that you can take to improve things from your end. But if the other person is not ready to make things right and is not responding to you, then it is better to leave things. Just ignore the worker and focus on your work. Interact with him or her only when needed. 
  • Keep a track of their progress: You need to observe the coworkers for any change in their behavior. Are they trying to improve things from their end, also, or are they planning to ruin things further? It may or may not be helpful, but the final result depends on the type of person and situation you are dealing with. Sometimes the person feels ashamed and retreats from their behavior, but sometimes they take a more villainous turn just because you embarrassed him or her publicly. (Also read 7 Steps For Managing Difficult Employees)

3. When should you Seek Help from the Authorities?

Two people talking: how to deal with difficult people at work 2

This is the last resort when things are difficult even after trying every possible way. Even ignoring is not effective enough. Now, how to deal with difficult people at work is to talk to your supervisors, managers, or even your boss and ask for their assistance in solving the issue. (See What is Priming Theory?)

4. What could Happen if you Fail in your Attempts?

If you are complaining to the authorities on a regular basis, and they are not resolving it in particular, then you might end up with the title of a whiner. Sometimes they are unable to see the problems that you are trying to explain to them, and it ruins your image in front of them. You may also be considered an immature and problematic person. (See 10 Golden Rules of Life)

5. Should you Stop just because you could Lose your Job?

The answer depends on you and your situation. If the issue is only work-related, and you can easily manage it by ignoring the person, then it is better to do so and continue with your work. But if the issue is serious, like workplace harassment, abuse, mental pressure, continuous blaming, and other similar issues, then it should not be ignored. Must read psychology behind vicarious embarrassment.

6. Should you Leave the Job because of Difficult Coworkers?

A person hiding his face behind papers: how to deal with difficult people at work 3

If it is the best possible way, then you should switch your jobs because mental peace is important. But make sure to take necessary precautions and measures before switching jobs to stay away from that or any other problematic coworkers in the future. You can check out the article about how to end a toxic friendship?

The minds of people are complex and complicated, so better you ignore them as much as possible or try to find your way of dealing with them. Now you can figure out how to deal with difficult people at work and improve situations with difficult coworkers. (See What would You Like to Become When You Grow Up?)

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