Up until recently, I can say that I’ve never had a problem with anyone I’ve worked with. My co-workers and I have been around each other for the last six years, and have come to recognize each other’s moods and work habits. Although my office is mostly composed of women, there hasn’t been issues that we’ve never been able to chalk up to one of us PMS’ing. So we know when to stay clear and tread lightly.

Eventually you get that one person. That one person who feels the need to disrupt a work environment and cause unnecessary stress and drama. That one person, when every time you see them, you just want to take a can of compressed air and spray it in their eyes. But you realize it’s never a good look to get dragged out of the building in handcuffs. So of course, you don’t take that route.

Allow me to be a bit candid, most people will tell you that the only way to deal with an unruly coworker is to seek help from Human Resources. I call bullshit. As an HR professional with about fourteen years of experience, let me tell you, no one likes a tattletale. I’ve even had to step in and air grievances with my own HR department and lets just say, advocating wasn’t their strong suit. Once you’ve stepped foot into mediation with HR and the co-worker, it may seem resolved, but there’s a chance that person will always have a sense of animosity with you. And that only makes for a more tense work environment. In my experience, most coworker issues are quite petty. She stole my stapler. He didn’t give credit on the project we worked together on. Amongst normal functioning adults most things should have an easy resolution.

Here are a few steps to resolve co-worker issues:

  1. Kill them with kindness - If you have that coworker that has a stick permanently stuck in their behind, try a little tenderness. Engage in a cordial conversation, find interests you may share with that person and talk about them. Sincerity and kindness goes a long way.
  2. Change Of Scenery - No one wants to look at someone 5 days a week, for 8 hours a day in the same environment. Most people spend more time with their co-workers than with their own family, so that’s an added stress factor. A new environment can change the way you perceive someone. Happy hour, a lunch outside of work or maybe a weekend event can give you a new perspective about a person.
  3. Don’t be a gossipmonger - If you don’t get along with someone, keep it to yourself. Plain and simple. Office gossip spreads faster than Kim Kardashian’s legs and the more you express your disinterest in a person, the harder it is to accomplish #1 or #2.
  4. Check yourself, before you wreck yourself- Maybe it’s not the co-worker you have an issue with, maybe it’s yourself. You think your coworker is lazy, and doesn’t contribute to the team? But you’re sitting at work reading Clutch, CNN and not contributing, then you have more in common with that coworker than you think :)

If you have to spend eight, sometimes more than that in an office with other people, it doesn’t make sense for it to be a stressful and disharmonious environment. But if it’s too much for you to take, there’s always HR, or a new job. But if you haven’t noticed, the job market isn’t the greatest.

15 Comments

  1. Man, I have comments that could go on for days…I had this one co-worker that literally stole stuff from my desk. and it felt like the twilight zone because everyone thought she was awesome (except one of my bosses). So glad to be out of there.

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