If you’ve ever had any kind of job, you’ve been taxed by one or two bad coworkers.
It’s not that they’re bad people necessarily. It’s just that they’re not the greatest coworkers and can be a bit draining. Dealing with challenging coworkers can drive you to go to too many happy hours, or at least to go home and regularly dump your woes on your family or friends. Sadly, there is little you can do to change people, but there are ways to minimize their impact and the havoc they wreak on your mental health.
Here are a few ideas on how to rise above:
1. The Gossip
I can feel your blood pressure going up by just reading the term! This is the coworker who should have owned a hair salon because he or she wants to know every intimate detail of everyone’s intimate business (and pass it along ‘round the coffee pot). The fact is, no one is entitled to your personal information unless you want to share it. So don’t feel stuck up or rude if you refuse; just do it tactfully. First, try changing the subject by offering something you’d like to talk about instead. If that doesn’t work, simply say, “That’s not something I feel comfortable discussing” or “I like to keep that between me and my (husband, boyfriend, doctor, mom).”
2. The Sluggard
Aggghhhh! Every ethical employee has had to work alongside one who isn’t. You know, the guy or gal who comes in late no matter how often the boss reiterates the business hours, who magically stretches every lunch hour well past the allotted time, and somehow disappears frequently before the documented end of the workday. Here’s the thing, if you notice these tendencies, everyone else does too. So if this person isn’t affecting your ability to do your job, it’s probably best to keep quiet. However, if you are directly impacted (she’s adding to your workload because she doesn’t finish hers, for example), you need to tactfully bring it up with her. If that doesn’t help, then you need to speak to your boss.
3. The Fake Boss
Lots of children with natural leadership skills are never taught how to hone and refine them, and thus they grow up to become bossy people. They love to tell everyone within earshot how to do everything, and in the workplace—if they are not actually your boss—this can make you crazy to the max. It’s fine if you ask for help or direction, but otherwise it’s a major annoyance. You’re going to have to find a way to blow them off in a kind and office-proper way. Say something brief and benign like, “Thanks, I’ll consider that” the next time this person tells you how or how not to do your job.
Sadly, there is little you can do to change people, but there are ways to minimize their impact and the havoc they wreak on your mental health.
4. The Eeyore
Everyone knows the bad apple metaphor. You know, one brown one spoils the whole basket full. Well, the same is true at work if there’s a major grump in the office. You know the kind; they complain about everything, including the flavors of K-cups, the customers, other people in the company, the boss. Their life. Obviously, this person is really unhappy, so a little sympathy is not unwarranted. But since you can’t let their negativity affect everyone else in the office, you’ll have to figure out a way to diffuse it. Sometimes that’s as simple as injecting a little humor into the complaint or suggesting a bright side to the offending situation. Do it quickly and get out so they learn you’re not willing to wallow with them.
5. The Megaphone
Isn’t this what iTunes and headphones were created for? If you have a loudmouth in the office and you’re allowed and can get your work done with headphones on, that’s your best recourse. Unless you have a private office and can simply shut the door. But if those aren’t options, you’re gong to have to woman-up and just tell them. “I can’t hear my clients on the phone when you’re talking” or “I can’t concentrate when you have your clients on speakerphone.” If they ignore you, you need to let your supervisor know the noise level is impacting your ability to focus.
6. The Brown-Noser
There’s not a lot you can do about the types of individuals who devote themselves to unethically (i.e. not through honest and hard work) currying favor with the boss. Do your best not to listen to or discuss any of their schemes. Report anything they do that is dishonest or illegal. Be an employee of the highest integrity; it will pay off for you in the long run.
There will always be difficult people in our lives, and the workplace is no exception. As women of grit and grace, we must practice giving grace to those around us and continue to press on toward our goals despite our circumstances.
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