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Deal with difficult peers with patience, tact

Throughout your career, you team up with different kinds of people. You like some of them and feel they are easy to get along with. Some, you don't like even if they are nice and friendly but are still difficult colleagues. You interact with these people every day, so you have to maintain your relationship with them. Dealing with them is a challenge, but you cannot escape it because it is linked to your future.

Good professionals complement your efforts and contribute to your growth. The bad ones can mislead you and burden your job function. They even pose a threat to the morale and performance of the whole team. It is true that you do not have control over them but by analysing the difficult situations, you can devise strategies to deal with them.

Firstly, find out whether any other team member has similar reactions against the particular co-worker. At times, you become a target because you appear vulnerable. They victimise you because you allow them. If this is the case, all you have to do is to become immune to what they say or do. Ignore them and avoid falling prey to their behaviour. The following is some advice:

Criticising: Some people constantly criticise others. This helps them feel better and superior. Some of them are bullies to the core who criticise for sheer pleasure. The best way to handle them is to become immune to their comments. Do not react to what they say or try to answer them diplomatically. Ensure that you show them that you are not affected by their comments and they will go searching for a different target.

Passing over: Your colleague may try to dump his responsibilities on you. If you feel that this person is ‘carrying' messages of new assignments frequently, check with your manager to ensure that he is assigning them to you. If you realise that it is the colleague who is assigning the work, politely tell him that you will not do it. Or you can talk to your manager and seek his advice to deal with this person.

Another trick is to evade responsibilities when important tasks are assigned. This colleague could fall under latecomers, absentees, ‘missing' from seat and ‘not reachable' categories. Let him know that he is taking too much time off and warn him that it is not fair to overburden his colleagues. If he continues, tell him that you are not willing to share his work and would take the issue to the notice of higher ups.

Competition: A colleague with low self-esteem can bring you under unwarranted pressure by making everything into a competition. You can deal with him by extolling his abilities and underplaying yours. This way he may even be extra kind to you because you ignore his shortfalls.

No planning: Some employees are bad at organising and sticking to their action plan. This kind of work approach will disrupt your schedule if you are interdependent for finishing the job. You can handle this situation by pursuing deadlines you set prior to actual deadlines. Also, remind this person about the deadlines in writing. Whenever he fails to meet his deadlines, inform your manager that you may need some additional time to finish your part of the job because you did not receive the required information or support from this person in time.

Some colleagues do not intend any malice but cause annoying interruption to work because they need some external support. They cannot handle difficult situations themselves and need to express their feelings to someone before they can calm down or proceed. Whenever they are in some pressure, they barge into your cubicle and start telling details about their problems. They consume a few hours at a stretch or disturb you every few minutes to update you on the matter. Dealing with this kind of situation may require patience and tact. Tell the person that you will listen to him during the break or after office hours. Say that you are really concerned but your work pressure will not permit you to afford any time for him at the moment. You will have to do this every time he tries to disturb you until he realises that you will not spare him any time during working hours.

Another kind of disturbance is from people who like to gossip. Engaging them is not just getting distracted from work; it can create a blotch on your record as an unproductive and problematic employee. So never participate in this kind of activities during working hours.

Some employees are always complaining about work and the working environment. By their constant cribbing, they induce negativity in others around them. Some of them could be even pessimists. Colleagues, managers or experts can counsel such people. Unless the problem causing issues in a colleague is ‘chronic' it can solved by discussing it over a cup of coffee. But if this does not help, you have to devise a strong strategy to save yourself and your team against the negative repercussions.

NITYA SAI SOUMYA

faqs@cnkonline.com

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