Everyone deals with difficult (or downright unpleasant) coworkers at some point during their career. Douglas Battista notes that these workplace jerks come in many different flavors, from the know-it-all to the breakroom coffee thief. But is there a right way to deal with less-than-friendly people at work?
Q: What is the best way to eliminate tension in the office?
Douglas Battista: That really depends on the source and whether or not their actions are simply part of their personality or fall into the category of abusive or indifferent. Sometimes, your best bet is to simply pull them aside and ask them what’s going on. They may not realize they’ve been dubbed the office Scrooge. Bringing their behaviors to their attention may be all it takes to ease the animosity.
Q: Does that always work?
Douglas Battista: No. Some people are just unpleasant. It’s hard to know why someone behaves in a certain way. Perhaps they are bitter over being skipped over for promotion, are going through a divorce, or feel as though they are underutilized and underappreciated. Whatever the reason, you are unlikely to get through to this person.
Q: How do you handle an abusive boss?
Douglas Battista: This is a sticky situation, and one that requires a ton of thought and planning before bringing up the issue. You can’t just walk up to your manager and call them out for having a grating personality. After all, not everyone adheres to the “catch flies with honey” philosophy, and they may believe they are more effective in their role by asserting strict authority. However, when they cross the line and become abusive or hostile, you will need to contact your company’s human resources department for guidance.
Q: Nothing works. What should I do?
Douglas Battista: Unless something illegal is happening, you may have very little ground to do much else. Sometimes, the only logical way to remedy this situation is to simply change jobs. It may not be ideal, but it’s preferable to being miserable.