Australian Women’s Health Magazine

By June 28, 2012 Articles No Comments

Dealing with Difficult Co Workers

People who feel ignored by their colleagues or manager are 40 per cent more likely to feel hostile towards their job and unhappy at work, according to Gallup. “People want to be in a place where they can flourish, learn and have a community,” says Meiron Lees, an executive stress management coach, and author of D-Stress. “But 70 per cent of people leave their jobs because of poor management.” Hardly ideal.


Not getting enough support from a manager? Ask for feedback on your performance to get a dialogue going, says Fuller. If this doesn’t work, it could be time to move on. “Treading water long-term can be frustrating. It’s important to feel you’re able to move forward,” she says.

And if you’re the manager? “First, understand a few things,” says Lees. “The person chose to work at that organisation, so what are their motivations? Know your people – what drives them, what’s important to them – like creativity or diversity. People want to be in an environment that supports them.” Turn difficult colleagues into allies by getting to know them. “Familiarity drives engagement,” explains Watkinson. “It comes down to basic human need; people need to feel cared for in order to be happy. Ask about each other’s lives – children, partners, hobbies. Employees want to be seen as people, not just workers.”


“Moaning, negative colleagues can also seriously impact on your work wellbeing,” says Allan Watkinson, principal consultant for Sydney based management consulting firm Gallup. “Disengaged workers try to recruit engaged people into their gang,” he says. “They feel better about themselves if their co-workers are disengaged too. If you’re new to the company you’re a prime target to be recruited.”

Arm yourself with other positive colleagues to prevent being bombarded with bad vibe ammunition; it takes five fully engaged workers to cancel out the impact of one disengaged employee, according to Gallup research. And to disarm the negativity? Well, sometimes people just want to offload, says Adele Sinclair, director of Wellness at Work Australia. She advises listening but not passing judgement. “Ask for more details and highlight the positives. If the negative comments are legitimate, acknowledge them by saying That’s true, but balance the conversation with positive comments.”

It’s important not to dismiss people as moaners, she says. “Negative emotions are a survival mechanism. They help us eliminate things that might hurt us. Optimistic thinking takes effort until it becomes a habit. So if you’re able to see positives in a situation that others can’t, gently refer to them.”

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