How Should You Handle That Difficult Co-worker?

It seems to always happen to you – your desk is moved next to the know-it-all or your new project has you paired with the office gossip. It can be really challenging for you to get through the day. So what’s a good person like you supposed to do?

You don’t want to be a jerk but you feel like you have to take action. Before you do, spend some time answering these questions: What if the roles were reversed? Let’s say that something you do at work is annoying to your co-workers. What would you want to have happen? Would you want to be made aware or left alone? If you were told what other people were experiencing, how would you feel? Knowing how you would hope to be treated will help you handle your situation gracefully. What are you meant to learn?

A theory exists that there are no accidents. If that is true, think about why this person is showing up in your life right now. Dig deeper into your reactions to the situation to understand: What about this person’s behavior is really bothering you? What does the answer above tell you about yourself? Consider what you are seeing in them that you might want to change in yourself. Could you see something different? What might change if you focused on what you like about this person? Does their sense of humor crack you up? Do they have an ability to get things done? Do they know how to do things that you don’t? You cannot make another person change, so find at least one trait you can admire and see how it changes the experience.

Now that you have been through this exercise, how do you want to move ahead with your co-worker? Your actions have the potential to improve your own work environment as well as the surroundings of everyone else. Make the most of the opportunity.


Lisa is a Certified Professional Coach and graduate of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and founder of her own leadership and executive coaching firm. As a CPA working in both public accounting teams and corporate financial departments, Lisa gained substantial experience working with leaders. Her progression through a series of leadership roles (from supervisor, manager, director, interim CFO and VP Controller) taught her how to bring out optimal performance in employees at every level. Lisa has developed hundreds of leaders, in finance and cross-functionally, during her career in accounting. She continues this work through coaching and wants to do the same for you. Bringing out you or your employees’ top performance at work and in life is her passion.  Lisa has seen a common thread with the leaders she has met: intelligence, talent, passion, work ethic and genuine concern for the future of their companies. This, plus her understanding of how performance improvement leads to better profits for companies, drives her desire to provide coaching to his base as they look to continually improve their skills. Her business exposure, plus her time as an officer in the NC Army National Guard has helped her understand the criticality of great leadership as well as the need for keeping balance in life.

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