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10 Tips on How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

David has over 15 years supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge in how to handle personnel issues across many areas.

Difficult coworkers can be near impossible to avoid.

Difficult coworkers can be near impossible to avoid.

Handling Bad Coworkers

A coworker is someone you work with at your job. It can be someone in your organization that you talk to on the phone, see in passing on the way to your office, or someone in the cubicle next to yours that you work with on a daily basis.

Someone could be a bad coworker just because you see them that way. That doesn't mean they are truly bad, it just means you have to approach them differently.

This article covers how you can handle toxic coworkers, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of having coworkers just to give you some perspective.

Angry Coworker

It's important to try to work together with your coworkers, not against them.

It's important to try to work together with your coworkers, not against them.

Tips on Dealing with Difficult Coworkers

Below are some tips when dealing with your coworkers:

  1. Don't take sides. If there is an argument or disagreement between coworkers, don't take sides. If your boss intervenes, advise your boss of what happened. Taking sides only creates rifts in the workplace.
  2. Avoid office gossip. You can't believe everything you hear, and that goes double for office gossip. While there could be a hint of truth in the gossip, engaging in it only makes you look bad and causes some hurt feelings.
  3. Don't brown-nose. If your coworkers see you fawning over your boss, they will see you as a brown-noser. This may seem like you will turn them in for anything, which leads to the next point.
  4. Be honest about your coworkers mistakes. A lot of people don't want to be the tattletale in the office. They see a coworker doing something wrong, but they don't wish to report it. The problem with that is that it makes it worse, and can make the job harder on you. Typically difficult coworkers are bad workers.
  5. Don't share your social network information. If you post a picture on Twitter or Facebook of you dancing on a table while drunk, you can be sure others will see that photo. It would make you look bad.
  6. Be careful how you socialize with your coworkers. Seeing your coworkers at a company event is acceptable, but be very careful of going drinking with a coworker. You never know what could happen that damages your reputation or even costs you your job.
  7. Help your new coworkers. Even if someone is trained in a certain profession, they may not be trained in how your organization does things. So show them the ropes of the office. They will appreciate it later on and will feel more at ease.
  8. Be nice to your coworkers. You never know who could become your future boss, so always treat your coworkers with respect. They will remember this in the future and treat you with the same courtesy.
  9. Do favors for your coworkers. Lets say one of your coworkers wants a day off and needs you to cover for them. Go ahead and do it. You can cash that favor in at a later time when you need some time off.
  10. Look out for yourself. While you want to help and be friendly to your coworkers, you need to look out for yourself. A good supervisor will judge you on your performance, and not what your coworkers say about you. So you need to ensure you do your job and not let your coworkers do anything to mess that up.

Notice a lot of these don't involve what to do against your bad coworker. Most of these tips involve being careful so you don't give this bad coworker ammunition to use against you. On top of that, you kill them with kindness, making you the better person overall.

Building Good Relationships with Coworkers

Having a unified workplace with your coworkers is the best.

Having a unified workplace with your coworkers is the best.

Advantages of Having Coworkers

There are some great advantages to having coworkers in the office:

  • Helps the day go by faster. If you get along with your coworkers, then it makes the day go by so much faster because you can talk to them, share stories, and have a good time. It doesn't make work seem so much like work when you are having a good time.
  • Can spread the work around. If the workload is particular heavy that day, your coworkers can help make up the difference and spread the work around. You can rely on each of their strengths to get the work done that much faster.
  • Learn from your coworkers. Each of your coworkers bring in unique experiences and knowledge to the workplace. You can learn from that to make yourself a better employee.
  • Could end up with a new best friend, or a partner! You could end up socializing with your coworkers after your shift ends. You may end up dating someone you meet at work and find the person you are meant to be with.
  • Provides unity in the workplace. The bigger your organization, the more employees will be hired by that organization. If you want a raise, want to become unionized, etc. then having more coworkers with the same ideas works in your favor.

Jobs For Those Who Don't Want Coworkers

Examples of professions that would have a limited amount of coworkers. Some are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have no coworkers at all.






Web Page Designers

Graphic Designers




Private Investigators

Interior Designers




Truck Driver



Internet Professions

Janitorial/House Cleaning

Most graveyard shift jobs

Coworkers can back-stab you at the drop of a hat.

Coworkers can back-stab you at the drop of a hat.

Disadvantages of Having Coworkers

Unfortunately there are disadvantages in dealing with coworkers in the workplace:

  • Not all are at the same skill level. You may be able to process 30 reports in a day, but a coworker may only be able to process 20. So more pressure can be put on you just because you have the ability to get more done, allowing your coworker to not do as much.
  • Personal drama infests the workplace. Despite being told not to, most coworkers bring their personal problems into the workplace. While others try to sympathize, everyone has their own personal problems to contend with.
  • Coworkers can be a distraction. Some of your coworkers may try to socialize too much, talk on the phone a lot, etc. It can serve as a distraction in the workplace and prevents you from getting your job done.
  • They could try to stab you in the back. If there is a job promotion available, your coworkers could try to spread vicious rumors about you behind your back in an effort to get the promotion. Or they could brown-nose your boss so they can be promoted.
  • Those who earn more money may treat you like dirt. Those in other positions may treat you like you are below them just because they earn more money or have more responsibility.

Difficult Coworkers

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 David Livermore


torrilynn on March 14, 2013:


i agree with you on some of the benefits and cons of working with others

sometimes you might not always agree on the same thing or they simply just

don't like you there are plenty of variables anyway thanks for the information

Voted up

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