Dealing with Challenging Co-Workers

Unless you work from home, chances are you have to work with a number of different people with different personalities – and sometimes they just don’t mesh.

Posted: Feb. 16, 2018 8:39 AM

CLEVELAND – Unless you work from home, chances are you have to work with a number of different people with different personalities – and sometimes they just don’t mesh.

Scott Bea, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, said when we find our co-workers to be distracting or off-putting, it can help to create some physical space.

“Creating a space, or even orienting yourself in a way that makes you just a little less accessible, so you can manage who gets to you and who doesn’t, might be to your advantage,” said Dr. Bea.

Dr. Bea said when we find ourselves in a spot where people are infecting us with cynicism, criticism, gossip, or perhaps always wanting to be ‘right’ it’s a smart idea to protect ourselves.

He suggests trying avoidance measures or simply letting them know that you don’t do well with gossip and that perhaps they should share it with someone else.

Dr. Bea believes it would be beneficial for employers to take a holistic approach when hiring new people – taking into consideration who might work well with the other people in the office.

He said it’s important to take into consideration who might be able to create a culture that promotes productivity, because one ‘bad apple’ in the office is all it takes to drag everyone else down.

Research has shown that ‘toxic’ co-workers actually end up costing companies more than high performers add to the workplace.

“There are some organizations that are thought to have really good cultures,” said Dr. Bea. “Not everybody in that organization is a super-performer, but people do better and execute the mission of the company a lot more when they’re in those friendly environments.”

When we find ourselves getting pulled into a co-worker’s negativity or bad habits, Dr. Bea said it’s vital to stay true to ourselves and our values.

“Take your mission seriously – you don’t have to take yourself too seriously in it – but form good habits early on and stick with them,” he said. “Stubbornly refuse to kowtow to the avoidance behaviors that others might have, like showing up late, not going to meetings and finding shortcuts.”

To stay happy and productive at work, Dr. Bea recommends staying away from people who are sowing the seeds of discontent whenever possible, because misery loves company, but the company doesn’t love misery.

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