Part 2 of Social Work: How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers continues … You can read Part 1 here.
The hairs on your back stand on edge — it’s that shrill, whiny voice you’ve heard a thousand times before. Far beyond grating, the boo-hooing has reached a level of nerve-abrasion that is completely off the charts. Fashion coordinator Jordan knows this firsthand. Day after painful day, she heard complaints from the woman-with no-inside-voice who sat in the next cubicle. On and on and on she went … wah … waah …waaah … until the loud laments and negative attitude began to consume Jordan’s thoughts, day and night.
How to Deal: It’s very likely that the grumbling has rendered your trusty headphones null, in which case, you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and offer the branch of friendship in hopes that you can help Captain Complaint develop a new point of view. To start, you’ll have to lay some relational groundwork. You never know, there could be more going on than meets the eye, such as family problems or an illness.
What the Bible Says: Luke 6:27-41 explains some powerful lessons that must be put into practice if you want to drown out the doldrums and overcome the occupational hazards that come from dealing with people. Love your enemies, and do not judge. Get those down, and you’re on your way toward having a compassionate heart that dissolves the annoying power of complaints.
The Credit Stealer
You saw; you conquered; you didn’t get any kudos because someone else swooped in and took them. That’s just plain lousy. Joel, a hardworking 30-something, climbed the corporate ladder quickly and managed to stay there for a number of years. But after his initial success, his boss began assuming credit for Joel’s ideas and innovations. Needless to say, Joel was crushed.
How to Deal: In his book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dealing With Difficult Employees, Robert Bacal notes that credit-stealing is typically short-lived. He encourages you to stay in the game and have faith in your company’s decision-makers. Time will reveal individual strengths, and other opportunities will arise for you to exhibit your skills.
What the Bible Says: “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear” (1 Timothy 1:19, NLT). Equally as important is the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16, which explains how vital it is to be honest and faithful, serving to the best of your ability. And for that faithfulness, blessings and favor are sure to follow.
Once you’ve identified these irritating behavior, you can begin to turn your office foes into allies — or at the very least professional, affable colleagues. Be sure that you approach every difficult situation with controlled emotion. Consider the other person’s point of view and think about your role in the conflict as well as your attitude. Talk to the individual directly instead of via e-mail, which can be interpreted so many different ways. Work on communication constantly, and remember that listening shows respect.
In his best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes, “The desire to feel important is perhaps the deepest need someone has, so if you give it you will win their heart” — and help conquer any kind of behavior beast you encounter.
What if your difficult coworker is your boss?
If a problem with a supervisor has got you feeling down for the count, try these strategic moves.
1) Keep emotion out of it. Take some time to process your feelings so you don’t come out of your cubicle swinging.
2) Evaluate the situation and your role in it. Try to look at the occurrence(s) with “fresh” eyes.
3) Open up. Though you need to be respectful, don’t hesitate to let your boss know that things are awry. Your supervisor may not realize he or she has offended you.
4) Take control of your thoughts. You won’t be able to manage your supervisor’s actions, but you can do something about your attitude.
5) Know when enough is enough. If the confrontations escalate, it’s time to consult HR or your office manager. Be sure to keep documentation of events and give accurate accounts of all that transpired.
6) No matter what, follow Colossians 3:23-24 and do your job with excellence.