5 Ways to Deal with Difficult People (at Work)

Do you have a hard time being around a certain someone at work? You are not alone. Coexisting with unpleasant coworkers is a difficult task that we might encounter once or multiple times in our lives. Instead of dreading going into work, equip yourself with skills to be able to handle them.

Stay centered

It is a natural reaction to want to lash out when you are aggravated. However, losing your temper will only exacerbate the issue. Next time you feel annoyed and need to calm down fast, try out these meditation techniques made for the work environment.

Be respectful but come to expect their behavior

Toxic people take pleasure in bringing out the worst in others. If this reminds you of your coworker, the best solution is to be respectful. Not reacting the way they are expecting may deter future incidents. Nina Brown in her book “Working with the Self-Absorbed” suggests it is best to come to expect their behavior. Don’t waste energy trying to change them, argue with them, or expect something different. Don’t empathize with them like you might with your other co-workers. A somewhat cool, detached relationship may be the best you ought hope for.

Address the issue

If a coworker has become so challenging where it is clearly affecting your work, you must tell someone. Address the issue with your superior so that a solution can be made or at least you all can begin documenting their inappropriate behavior.


Dealing with someone challenging is an additional stress on your life. This is a great time to increase your self-care. Self-care is taking care of all the things you need to have in place in order to be healthy. It can include the right amount of sleep, exercise, connecting with friends and loved ones, and taking good care of your body. But when times are particularly tough you can also include massage, walks in nature, journaling, seeing a therapist or life coach, basically taking extra good care of you. Self-care helps us build resiliency and supports our wellness through difficult times.

Rise above

If a coworker makes an unpleasant comment, you can excuse yourself from the conversation. Sometimes, the best solution is to walk away. It’s okay to set boundaries where you draw a line and say you are not comfortable with the way the meeting or conversation is going and you want to stop and resume later with a manager present.

After reading this article, may you inspire to handle difficult coworkers better. And remember, all of the award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help meet your life and career goals. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.