Struggling With a Challenging Co-Worker? Turn Things Around!

You get to choose your job, but you have no control over the people you work alongside. Sometimes you really luck out, and truly enjoy every one of your colleagues, but it doesn’t always go that way — at least initially.

If you’re having trouble getting along with a co-worker, this can seriously impact your level of job satisfaction and the quality of your work. You can silently stew and hope the person miraculously starts to see things from your point of view or you can take steps to turn things around. Use these tips to make a change for the better.

Engage in Self-Reflection

It’s easy to assume the other person is the problem, but chances are, you share in the blame. Take the time to consider exactly what it is about your co-worker that bothers you so much. You might realize you’re overreacting or be able to identify certain behaviors exhibited by others that tend to send you into a tailspin.

Being self-aware will get you very far in both your personal and professional life. If you’re able to recognize patterns in your own behavior that result in unpleasant interactions with others, you can learn from your mistakes and make positive adjustments.

Talk to the Person Privately

Calling your co-worker out on their frustrating behavior in front of the team will only make things worse. Instead, pull the person aside for a private conversation about your difference of opinion. Let them share their side of the story first, and really listen to what they have to say, without interrupting. This will allow you to see things from their prospective, which will likely help you understand their behavior a little better.

Find Common Ground

After you’ve each shared your perspective, roll your sleeves up and work together to find a way to get along. This means you’ll both need to adjust your behavior, because it isn’t fair for one person to have to make all the sacrifices. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so give the person time to adjust. If they continue to grate on your nerves, talk to them about it instead of silently stewing or griping about them to other colleagues.

Alert Your Boss

Unless your co-worker is threatening you or behaving in an otherwise violent manager, taking the issue to your manager should be your last resort. However, sometimes it’s the only way to deal with a challenging colleague.

If you’re forced to get your boss involved, document specific examples of the person’s behavior, so the issue is clear. Schedule a time to talk to your boss in advance, avoid bashing your co-worker, and accept responsibility for any of your actions that added fuel the fire. If you act like a mature adult, you’ll be taken seriously, but if you behave irrationally, you’ll seem like the bulk of the problem.

It’s very possible to work things out with a challenging colleague and learn to appreciate one another, but when that doesn’t happen, you have to know when to move on. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you find your next behavioral health position, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at

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