9 Types of Difficult Coworkers and How to Handle Them

Are you currently dealing with difficult coworkers? You know, that kind of fellow colleagues who you’re trying to avoid at the kitchen or having a break at the terrace. Sometimes it can take more efforts to deal with them then dealing with bad bosses. Especially now, when an open office space format becomes popular and disruptive people surround us anywhere and everywhere. Difficult coworkers can rub you the wrong way and force to act irrationally, which is not exactly a healthy situation in which you can succeed.  

The good news is that, even though you can’t change everyone else’s behavior, you always can change your own. To help you survive in a tough environment we’ll tell you how to handle a difficult coworker and what is most important how to knock someone out without hurting them.

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1. Nitpicker coworkers

Nitpickers are the must at any office workplace. At first, they seem as a perfect workers but later they may cause serious problems. Nitpicker isn’t just a hard worker but a controlling coworker, as well. They have a great work ethic but they also have a “gift” of making a fuss and leaving you with absolutely no control or the ability to use your creativity and imagination.

How to deal with nitpicker coworkers?

  • Make them feel like they’re know it all coworkers (even if they aren’t)
  • Keep your own work-life balance
  • Respect them for persistence, detail-orientation but leave the place for time off
  • Don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself
  • Show collaboration rather than individual approach

2. Jealous coworkers

Maybe you told your office colleague that you’ve got a promotion and the next day he/she didn’t talk to you? Congratulations, you got a jealous type. These people always want what you have and even more, they truly believe that you don’t deserve what you have but they do. As usual, their behavior caused by their fear to be at the end of the list. Jealous coworkers are easy to detect but not easy to deal with.

How to deal with jealous coworkers? 

  • Limit your communication 
  • If it starts to attack you personally take emotions out and don’t take it close
  • Don’t react actively it only encourages him/her 
  • If the situation doesn’t change, leave or talk to your supervisor 

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3. Mean coworkers

This kind of coworker is definitely the hardest to deal with. Do you find a situation familiar when somebody persistently trying to break your confidence by saying derogatory comments, shouting and constantly trying to prove you’re wrong? Here they are, mean coworkers are healthy working environment busters and what is even worst they may destroy your personality. If you notice someone trying to show an ego at workplace by ‘beating’ you in an aggressive way - don’t tolerate.

How to deal with mean coworkers? 

  • Stay focused on your work and don’t contribute the conversation
  • Simply avoid engaging in any form of competition with them
  • If it goes worst, stand your ground 
  • Don’t be rude (it’s difficult, we know) but he/she may use it against you

4. The gossip

Attention! Rumors at the office. There is no workplace without a gossip coworker. This person lives for the latest office scandal, whether it’s actually true or not. This lack of boundaries personality type spend a whole working day discussing coworker’s weird eating habits, salary differentiation and who is going with whom. It may cause a huge disturbance if you don’t know how to deal with coworkers who talk about you behind your back.

How to deal with gossip coworkers? 

  • Create a kind of bubble by simply closing your office door or putting on your headphones
  • Inform this person about the impact of his/her behavior on you with a statement like "I felt really upset by the comment you made about me to Jane."
  • Avoid sharing personal details if you don’t want to become a star of the office rumors
  • If everything above doesn’t work say straight that you’re not a fan of workplace gossips 

5. Annoying coworkers

If you had an experience dealing with annoying coworkers you may definitely point it out in your resume skills section. The friction of interacting with annoying coworkers actually presents a chance to cultivate essential leadership skills like assertiveness and confidence. It can provide an unexpected opportunity for personal growth and test the limits of your patience. 

How to deal with annoying coworkers?

  • Know your role and state your priorities
  • Set the boundaries
  • Be specific and confident in explaining your point of view
  • If it doesn’t help be straight and don’t be afraid of telling the truth directly

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6. Disrespectful coworkers

This person definitely has nothing good to say about you or to you. Be ready that this kind of coworker will be impatient, unfriendly, disrespectful, and hypercritical. Even after a small talk with him/her you feel yourself worthless and destructed. Don’t let this person get you down and try to follow the next tips.

How to deal with disrespectful coworkers?

  • Set the tone and be direct
  • Ask the person to change the approach
  • Be clear about appropriate behavior
  • Don’t take his/her words seriously

7. Hostile coworkers

Who is even worse than disrespectful coworker is a hostile one. If you find someone rude to you, hard to respond and making your life at work a misery these are the first triggers of a hostile coworker. This kind of personality is difficult to communicate and work with but there’re some advices how to deal with a coworker who is out to get you.

How to deal with hostile coworkers?

  • Try to be introspective
  • Be distinct in making a request
  • Use non-negotiable statements instead of polite question
  • Try to bring a “peace offer”
  • If nothing works ignore this person and talk to you HR 

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8. Passive aggressive coworkers

You will never know what to expect from passive aggressive type. They behave in phony ways trying to hide their true feelings and mood. “Everything is ok” it’s a common answer to all your questions, even when in fact everything is out of control. They hide their aloof personality by keeping their negative feelings pushed deep down. But when the tipping point comes they burst out with doing sabotage at the work.

How to deal with passive aggressive coworkers?

  • Confront problems with them out in the open
  • Use tact and good timing for conversations
  • Choose direct communication  
  • Express interest in their true feelings 
  • Try to create a safe space for them to feel heard and validated

9. Complaining coworkers

Have you ever been a victim of endless hate speech about how bad everything is? Starting from a simply complain about an untasty coffee to the misunderstanding with a partner. If you’re dealing with negative coworkers like this put as much actual physical space as possible between yourself and the negative person to avoid personality conflict. 

How to deal with complaining coworkers?

  • Create a kind of bubble to protect from his/her threats
  • Stop the conversation fast and straight
  • If you disagree with this person say it without smoothing things over
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