Miserable coworkers can be one of the most difficult things to deal with in the workplace. Nobody wants to come in and spend hours with someone who is miserable. Whether they are rude and mean, grumpy and in a bad mood, or always complaining and bringing you down, it’s important to have strategies for dealing with them effectively. If a miserable co-worker is bringing you down, here are 10 ways to deal with them.
1. Establish Boundaries
It’s important to set clear boundaries with miserable coworkers, particularly if they’re consistently behaving in a way that is rude or disrespectful. Let them know which behaviors you won’t tolerate, and make sure they understand the consequences if they cross those lines.
For instance, if someone is always rude to you, let them know that you will not tolerate rude words or behavior from them. If they continue, you will be forced to let someone higher up know. Making it clear to them what you won’t tolerate before you take it up with someone higher up will give them a chance to correct their behavior with you without resentment or anger that can come from a manager telling them your boundaries or disciplining them.
If they don’t respect your boundaries, then follow up on your boundary and take it up with your supervisor or HR department to find out what more can be done.
It may not always be possible, but try to disengage from miserable coworkers as much as you can. This could mean avoiding conversations with them or not engaging in their negative behavior by responding with unpleasant comments of your own.
If you can find a way to work away from them for most of your shift, do it.
3. Try to Understand Where They’re Coming From
It’s hard to empathize with miserable coworkers, but try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and think about what might be causing them to behave this way.
A stressful home life, feeling stuck, feeling threatened, or feeling unhappy for other reasons can cause someone to be miserable at work.
Understanding the reasons behind their behavior can help you approach them with more understanding rather than anger or resentment.
4. Talk Things Out
If it’s possible and appropriate, and you’re feeling up to it, talking things out with miserable coworkers can be helpful as it gives both of you an opportunity to express your points of view and come up with solutions together.
Make sure the conversation is calm, respectful, and productive so that everyone feels heard and understood. If you can’t go into it with a calm and respectful attitude, then don’t even try this suggestion. It will backfire miserably.
5. Ask Questions
Sometimes miserable coworkers may not be aware of how their behavior is affecting others, so asking questions can help you to better understand what’s going on with them and give them the chance to explain themselves.
Moreover, sometimes calling a miserable co-worker out on their bad behavior may be enough to correct it. If you never let them know that you see their bad behavior, they may never find a reason to change it.
For instance, you may want to ask your co-worker why they always raise their voice when you ask them a question. This will force them to confront their behavior and the reasons for it.
Try to stay focused and open-minded, even if it feels like they’re being difficult or uncooperative.
6. Give Positive Reinforcement
If miserable coworkers are making an effort to change their behavior, make sure you acknowledge that and give them positive reinforcement for doing so. This could be something as simple as a thank you or a genuine smile – anything to encourage them to keep up the good work.
7. Avoid Gossiping
Spreading rumors or gossiping about miserable coworkers will only cause further animosity in the workplace. If possible, avoid talking about the person behind their back altogether and focus on more productive topics.
8. Take Breaks
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by miserable coworkers, take regular breaks throughout the day to clear your head and relax. This will help restore your energy levels and make it easier for you to handle any situation that arises with them in a calm manner.
9. Find Support
Having miserable coworkers can be emotionally draining, so find someone who can provide emotional support when needed – this could be a colleague, friend, or family member. Talking through your issues can help you gain clarity on how to best manage the situation going forward.
10. Seek Professional Help
Sometimes there is no solution when it comes to a miserable co-worker. Nothing works to change them or the way they act toward you. When this happens, it’s important to have a handle on your own thoughts and reactions toward them. That’s where a therapist can come in.
A therapist can help you see the miserable co-worker differently and develop strategies to keep yourself safe and happy, even if you are around your miserable co-worker often.