Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

5 Ways to Handle Working With Someone You Can’t Stand

Not all colleagues are created equal. Throughout your career, it’s good to know how to navigate the more difficult personalities in the workplace.

The complainer. The gossiper. The one who refuses to be a team player. Unfortunately, regardless of your career choice, you’re likely to find that not all of your co-workers can be winners. So, what do you do if you find yourself in a situation where you’re spending time around an individual who only causes you frustration and misery? Considering your career could be at stake, it’s important to apply some best practices designed specifically to help you work with someone you can’t stand.

Kill Them With Kindness

It may seem counterintuitive to treat someone who is rude to you with anything other than sharp-tongued retorts, but meeting ill-mannered behaviors with politeness is one of the best routes to take. By not retaliating in the same manner—i.e., refusing to be rude back—not only do you take the high road, but you clearly demonstrate you are not willing to escalate the situation and stoke the fires of a burgeoning conflict. And though it can be difficult to remain calm in the face of misplaced anger and aggression, channeling your inner Zen as a business professional allows you to regulate your emotions more easily and is a sign of maturity and control—both important attributes that won’t go unnoticed by management teams and others in the workplace.

Avoid Them When Possible

Sometimes it’s not feasible to avoid a difficult personality while at work. Mandatory meetings, necessary collaborative project management, and a fixed chain of command can make thwarting the negative energy of your problematic colleague nearly impossible. However, there are times throughout the day where you can exercise your right to stay away. For instance, if you come across the troublesome party in the lunchroom, perhaps there’s a nice spot outside or elsewhere in the building to enjoy your food. Or maybe you noticed they like to come and talk to someone nearby you around 3 p.m. each day—take the opportunity to go for a walk or perhaps work from an open desk or conference room for a bit. Though it may seem unfair—and even annoying—that you should have to take the steps to steer clear of someone when they’re the problem, you owe it to yourself to take action when the behavior of another has such a negative effect.

Bring Awareness to the Situation

Communication is vital in the workplace, and sharing concerns you may have about how someone is treating you is no exception. If the incivility of another is ongoing, voice these frustrations to a trusted co-worker or business manager. Often, mistreatment can come from a lack of awareness. Your feedback can give your boss or leadership the opportunity to show the rude colleague how they are perceived and possibly motivate them to change their attitude and behavior. Shedding light on the situation may also encourage others to speak out and illuminate that others are affected by the problematic party as well.

Address the Problem Head-On

If you feel comfortable approaching your abrasive co-worker, that is also a viable option. This is most effective when you can sit down to address a pattern of behavior and give examples of said behavior. For instance, if this colleague tends to talk down to you, be sure you can refer to some instances where this occurred. Focus on the issues—not the individual—and how they negatively affect your professional relationship. It’s also important to really try to understand their perspective. Perhaps they feel they’ve been mistreated, are not aware of their behavior, or have been dealing with something outside of the workplace that has affected their ability to be civil. Your goal is to identify the ways you can interact harmoniously in the future so that you can work together as effectively as possible. Just remember to use neutral language, listen as much as you speak, and have a mediator present if you think it would be helpful.

Take Time to Decompress

One of the best things you can do is turn your focus from the offending individual to yourself. There are things that lie beyond your control—like the actions and behaviors of others—but something you can control is the attention you pay to your own wellness. Need to shed some frustration and negativity brought on by others? Meditate, work out, or watch your favorite comedy. Maybe even treat yourself to a massage to tap into total relaxation, or go out with friends and/or family to surround yourself with the vibes of those you enjoy. Sometimes, self-care is the best medicine—especially in situations that cannot be immediately solved or nipped in the bud. Prioritize some quality “me time” to help reenergize your headspace—remember, you are in control of many aspects of your own wellness.

Prepare for a Successful Career When You Earn Your Business Degree at Walden University

If you’re looking to begin or advance your career, earning a degree that’s applicable across a spectrum of industries is key. Organizations of all types and sizes are looking for qualified professionals who demonstrate proficiency in fundamental business principles and practices that can be applied in the workplace. Walden’s BS in Business Administration (BSBA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) are ACBSP-accredited programs that give you access to dynamic curricula and the real-world business competencies you need to succeed in any setting, from healthcare to education to government.

At Walden, an accredited university, you can earn your degree online while you continue to work full time. That means you can better maintain a work-life balance while you advance your knowledge and skill set. With online education, there’s no need to completely rearrange your schedule or commute to campus—you can complete coursework at whatever time of day works best for you as you earn your business degree and further your career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering business administration and management degree programs online, including a BS in Business Administration (BSBA) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden’s BS in Business Administration, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and PhD in Management programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The MS in Accounting and BS in Accounting programs are also accredited by the ACBSP and have earned the organization’s separate accounting accreditation.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,