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A difficult task

All of us have, at some time or the other, had to deal with colleagues who were difficult to handle. This is a common problem at the workplace because no one is good to work with all the time. However, there are some workers who are perpetually impossible to work with.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 12:39 IST

All of us have, at some time or the other, had to deal with colleagues who were difficult to handle. This is a common problem at the workplace because no one is good to work with all the time. However, there are some workers who are perpetually impossible to work with.

They are arrogant, stubborn, sometimes abusive, and act like they know everything there is to know.

At first you may try to be gentle in your dealings with such a person. You may then choose to ignore him or her but if the situation is affecting people around you as well, you have to deal with the situation in a more aggressive but constructive manner.

Here are some things you should consider. First, in any relationship be it work or home, it takes two hands to clap. It is time to ask yourself if you are contributing to your colleague’s bad behaviour in some small/large way. Maybe you have a habit that is irritating like tapping your foot on the ground as you work, or humming a tune under your breath…

If you have really searched your soul and come up with the answer that you have done nothing to provoke him or her, focus on what you can do to make things better. Since you have no control over the personality or even the behaviour of this another person, your best bet would be to zero in on changing your own behaviour pattern.

The next question you have to ask yourself is how? The first thing you could do is to talk to the person — in a private setting — telling him/her that you may have had differences but you would like to do something to change the situation between both of you. Ask if he or she has any ideas.

This way your colleague will know that you are truly concerned and interested. The second thing to do is to stay calm and collected. Deal with the situation firmly but nicely and without dramatics. Do not put on the act of being a martyr. Respond to suggestions made with dignity. Remember if you react angrily, you will almost always make the situation worse.

Third and most important, do not make the situation one for public discussion or discussion with other staff members. You must realise that when you talk about someone else it always comes back to them.

This will do nothing to solve the problem at hand. In some cases when the situation has got out of hand you may need help dealing with it. In this case do talk to your team leader and explain the position to him or her in the most factual way possible. Be objective. Do not ever try and convince the boss that your colleague is all bad and you are all good. Request help or suggestions and focus on fixing the problem and taking some responsibility for it.

If you have a good team leader or manager he or she may bring you both together to talk about the situation and work out a plan. In the final analysis it all boils down to prevention. Situations like this one must never be allowed to get so far that they become impossible to address.