The ‘Good’ is in There Somewhere: How to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers.

There is at least ‘one’ in every office – the dreaded co-worker. They either suck up your time talking about their weekend exploits, shout in the office as is if they are navigating a crowded night club or act is they have been transported back to the 1950’s when men referred to women as ‘dolls’ and the notion of a woman in an office being anything other than a secretary was unheard of.

Sound familiar?  Yes, we all know these types.  The problem is, these ‘types’ usually don’t realize the impact they have on everyone else. Let’s look at some concrete tactics to break through the tension and get back to work.

The Linger-er – He stops by daily to ask a question then settles in and starts telling you about his day – including what he ate for breakfast and who he sat next to on the train.

  • There are some blatant ways to give the message you are busy; headset, closed door, pile of papers on the only chair. A more direct and lasting approach is to simply say, “Mornings are my most productive time. Can we catch up in the afternoon?” Often the need to debrief the weekend will lessen as the day goes on.

The Loud Phone Talker – You never have to ask what’s new with her — she freely broadcasts it to everyone. Office productivity plummets on days she is fighting with her boyfriend.

  • Often people with loud voices are completely unaware of it. Take a subtle approach with, “Hey, I am not sure you realize that your voice projects and wanted to let you know — especially if you are having a private conversation. It is also sometimes hard for the rest of us to concentrate. Would you like me to let you know when your volume gets too high?”

Mr. Mad Men – He has no problem calling you “doll” or asking you to send a fax — even if you’re not his subordinate.

  • What is the culture of the organization and what is his goal? Sometimes, we can look past ignorance when there is truly no evil intent. However, if he is trying to “put you in your place” — Don’t go! You can treat him as if he is kidding or say, “Faxing is simple. Let me show you so you don’t need to wait around to ask someone for help next time.”

Remember, positive energy is contagious and can smooth conversations with seemingly impossible co-workers. Next time you are headed into a meeting with this person, picture yourself meeting with someone you really like until the actual meeting starts. Your energy will be more positive and you will find the meeting goes smoother. Your new found composure will also impress others — always an added bonus!

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