How to Deal With Difficult People at Work

By LiveCareer

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If you love and admire every single thing about your coworkers, consider yourself lucky…and recognize that your circumstances are a rare exception to the norm. Most of us form strong connections with a few of our coworkers and neutral camaraderie with others, but we still struggle with at least one or two people in the workplace who can be difficult to respect and trust. Here are a few common workplace personalities that can stand in the way of your happiness and productivity.

The Aggressive Person

The aggressive person may be easy to get along with outside of the workplace, but once inside these doors, this person feels constantly threatened and responds to all threats with blustering attempts to seem bolder, louder, more knowledgeable, and more intimidating then he or she actually is.

Outside the workplace, these people are easy to deal with—just let them be. They’ll spin themselves out in time, and if you don’t engage with them, you won’t make yourself vulnerable.

But at work, dealing with these people isn’t optional, and this task will require a high level of emotional energy. Push back. Pay attention to what’s going on behind the scenes. And even if it doesn’t suit your nature, raise the volume of your voice and the strength of your assertions when this person tries to help himself to credit, resources, or opportunities meant for you.

The Talker

The talker is a terrific person who would never intentionally hurt a fly. But when he heads your way, look out. He’ll ask you about your weekend and then launch into a long story about his latest vacation or home renovation project. An hour later, he’ll still be showing you pictures of his nieces and nephews and telling you about his aunt’s gall bladder surgery with no signs of slowing down.

You don’t want to be rude, but you have deadlines that can’t be ignored. You wonder how this guy has managed to keep his job for so long. And the answer is clear: he never works, but he’s friendly and charming. Shake off this loveable chatty bumbler by letting him know you’ll continue the conversation later. Smile. Be kind but firm.

The Work Avoider

In every office, there’s one person who shrugs off unpleasant responsibilities as if by magic. Somehow he’s always away from his desk, on vacation, or absent from meetings when tasks are delegated. He always carries the lightest share of group projects, and he always seems to have more important things to do than whatever the team is facing at any given moment

Keep in mind that work avoiders usually don’t mean any harm, and they often believe their dodges are transparent to those around them. If you have a work avoider in your midst, gently let him know that THIS time, he’s going to need to pull his share of the load. Don’t worry about embarrassing him a bit. Sometimes that’s best way to get the message through.

The Competitive Person

The competitive person is always running a race or placing a bet, even when there’s no racetrack in sight and nothing to bet on. She’s always climbing higher, working faster, staying later and getting in the last word.

Competitive behavior can be a great strength and an asset to any company, but only when it’s channeled in the right direction. Gently remind the competitor to run against herself, not you. And try to keep her aggressive energy focused outside the company, not on her own teammates, customers, clients, or innocent bystanders. 

LiveCareer (, home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Facebook and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.

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