Have you ever had a really difficult coworker? Someone who frustrated or annoyed you, or someone whom you clashed with on a regular basis? If you’ve answered “yes,” you’re certainly not alone. I think that most people have experienced this at some point in their career. In most workplaces, a bunch of different people (with different personalities and working styles) are put together and asked to work as a team. It’s not surprising that those people don’t always get along.

I feel pretty lucky to be in my current work situation. My coworkers are so awesome! But at my previous job, things weren’t quite as harmonious. There was a certain individual whom I had so much trouble working with. We worked at different paces, we followed different processes, and we ended up having a hard time getting projects done properly and meeting deadlines. It drove me crazy. But at the time, I didn’t know how to deal with it.

So just in case you’re in a similar situation, here is some practical advice! According to the article, “How to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers,” avoiding the difficult coworker is not a practical solution. There’s probably no way to avoid the difficult coworker forever (short of quitting your job). So the best thing to do is to try to talk to the person and discuss the problems that you’re experiencing.

In his book, “The Agile Leader,” Steve Gladis suggests that you follow these steps when talking to the difficult coworker:

  • Describe the problem in one or two sentences. Try to be clear and concise.
  • Provide a concrete, recent example of the problem.
  • Talk about the ways that you have contributed to the problem.
  • Talk about how your coworker has contributed to the problem.
  • Ask your coworker to share his or her thoughts about the problem, and suggest possible solutions.

The one thing that you definitely don’t want to do is blame your coworker for all of the problems that you’ve been experiencing. Even though you might be the perfect employee (hey, I’m sure you are!), it’s likely that you’ve both contributed to the problem in certain ways. Try to stay calm and keep an open mind. Good luck!


Clark, D. (2012, May 23). How to deal with difficult co-workers. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2012/05/23/how-to-deal-with-difficult-co-workers/

Gladis, S. (2015). Working with difficult people. Talent Development, 69(1), 78-81.