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Friday, June 19, 2009

Dealing with a Difficult Colleague

You’ve had the perfect job. Excitement is in the air and cheerfulness is the norm, but a week into the job and you are desperate. A difficult colleague is bent on destroying your peace in the office. Believe it or not, difficult colleagues can be found in any office on this planet.

So, who is a difficult colleague? He (of course, it can be a ‘she’ too) is a person who has all/some/one of the following characteristics.

The difficult colleague gossips behind your back and about others to you. You want to scream ‘no’ but remain silent for fear of hurting the person. Cleverly, he makes you do some of his works. It comes in the guise of help and you can’t refuse (though you did want to punch his face). He may be stubborn, and worse, able to convince his point of view however wrong it may be.

The difficult colleague likes to argue for no reason and you are frustrated in a second. Further, he is a silent conflict creator, yet everybody believes him to be the saint. A person with a wicked humour always directed at you but he makes others smile. He is arrogant to the core and you detest even the sight of him.

Now, these situations can put anybody in the backseat to fend for themselves and feel miserable. Yet, corrective measures can be taken to get out of the situation. How?
  • The first thing to bear in mind: Don’t quit and run away from the problem. Take it as a challenge to deal with them.

  • Stop being like the other person. Don’t match the hatred by spreading rumours and complaints. You may unwittingly try to form a peer group against the difficult colleague. Swallow the urge to do so and never let the relationship harm your work.

  • Try talking to the person. You may ask-how to talk to the person I resent the most? No doubt, taking this first step is difficult. In your imagination this colleague of yours might be the monster with ten tentacles and twenty heads. However, if you talk to the colleague, implausible as it may sound, you might end up having a new friend. As you talk solutions will emerge before your eyes. Who knows, he’d have had the same problems with you.

  • Then, see if the problem started with you. Some simple innocuous comments could have triggered the problem. If it had indeed started with you, apologise and take remedial action.

  • Besides, the colleague may have some personal problem which manifests as rude behaviour towards you. If so, listen to the problems and see if you can find some solutions.
If, however, the person is not ready to talk and is bent on harming you, inform the HR and the Manager. Let them know that you are having problems with that particular colleague. Of course, the problem should be solved at this level. For some reason if the problem is unresolved, you can ask for a horizontal transfer to another team or department.

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