How Do You Deal With a Frustrating Co-Worker

Do you enjoy your job but find it challenging to work with certain people? Most people have bumped into someone at work that they don’t like or find frustrating or annoying to be around. Unfortunately, when faced with a difficult co-worker, we may not know how to best deal with the situation. Maybe you think you have to quit, speak with your manager, or live with your annoyance. Depending on the case, you have different options in dealing with difficult co-workers.

Since you need to keep your income coming in and take care of yourself, find ways to deal with difficult co-workers. Stress in the workplace can affect you physically, emotionally, and in all of your relationships.

First Steps

Before deciding how you will handle the situation with difficult co-workers, fully understand the circumstances around the issue. A minor conflict may be one you can take on your own; however, more complicated problems may call for additional support.

  • Start by stating on paper the issue – what is the co-worker doing that bothers you?
  • As yourself, “Why am I reacting to it?”
  • Is my behavior initiating their behavior?
  • How serious is the behavior?

Some Workplace Examples

  • If you are frustrated with a co-worker who can never seem to get a project completed on time, you may want to offer to help them create a schedule.
  • If you have a problem with perfume or cologne that a co-worker may be wearing, you may first want to explain any health complications that you may be having due to the scent.
  • What if a co-worker interrupts you while working? An excellent way to handle this is to say, “I’d love to speak with you, but I have to complete this project right now. How about we take a 15-minute break later and chat?” You are taking care of yourself, still responding positively to the individual, and controlling the interruptions.
  • If this individual talks too much, let them know ahead of time that you have only 15 minutes to catch up with them.
  • You have to work with this person, and they are not doing their share of the work. Ask them, “what can I do to help you complete your portion of the project?”

Serious Workplace Issues

  • If you feel that a co-worker is sexually harassing you, you may want to refrain from speaking to them. When a co-worker exhibits inappropriate harassing behavior, talk with your supervisor or manager. You can expect to work in an environment where you are not harassed or discriminated against in the workplace.
  • If your manager is inappropriate, speak with your Human Resources department or your manager’s boss.

Potential Solutions

It’s essential to take ownership of your feelings about the person since that is how you feel.

  • Write down all possible solutions to the issue. Ask friends to offer solutions to your problem to have a more extensive list of potential solutions.
  • Communicate the situation with the co-worker privately. When speaking with this individual, you will want to be careful about presenting the issue. It’s essential to talk to them when you are NOT frustrated; otherwise, your edginess will show through loud and clear.
  • Another communication tip is to come from an “I” stance and not a “You” stance. For example, instead of saying, “You are interrupting my work,” you can phrase it, “I would love to catch up with you, though I have to complete this work quickly.” This way, the person doesn’t go into defensive mode and, at best, understands you will catch up later.
  • Be open to understanding how they see the situation. Try to understand why the two of you are not working well together.
  • You could consider speaking to your manager on this issue or have a discreet conversation with Human Resources to receive guidance on how to best handle the situation in your workplace.
  • Be aware of the behaviors that upset you, and when you see them occurring, remove yourself.

Your Thoughts

It’s vital to own your thoughts and try to solve issues in the workplace that impact your ability to do the work. Yet, there are times we have to work with someone we don’t like, and the issue doesn’t seem to be going away after your efforts to resolve the situation.

Don’t take their behaviors personally, and get into a heated conversation. Instead, how can you keep the interaction on a professional basis?

So you get to decide — Do you let go of the problem with the co-worker, or do you let go of the job, or do you learn to deal with it as best as possible? Find ways to let go of the stress attached to the issue and accept the best solutions that work for you.

Do you handle workplace issues that impact you?   When you can solve workplace issues, you increase your confidence.

Women’s Group Topics

The workplace is not the only environment where we bump into individuals with whom we have difficulty and are not sure how to deal with the situation.   Share challenges you have with behaviors exhibited by others that bother you.

Be well,

“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
(Pat Brill)

Other Topics You May Be Interested In
If It’s Not Working, Change It
What Fears Do You Have Looking for a Job?
How to Handle Feeling Overwhelmed


Since Strangling Isn’t An Option by Sandra A. Crowe
The author understands the many facets of frustration when we meet with difficult people. She provides self-quizzes and different ways for you to develop your skill in dealing with difficult people.



Do you want to download a PDF copy of both of these books, then go to:











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