Anyone who has worked for even a medium-sized company has had to deal with at least one bad co-worker. No matter what you do, you can’t change how other people are and there are always people out there that you just can’t get along with. What you can change, however, is how you react to these people and their behavior. 

By choosing how you deal with a bad co-worker, you are taking back your power and putting yourself in the driver’s seat of your life. We know that reacting in a calm and even kind manner is easier said than done when dealing with particularly difficult co-workers, so we have put together a few tips to help you out.

Five types of bad co-workers and how to deal with them

  1. The Narcissist: This type of person can be difficult to work with because of their inflated ego. They tend to give themselves a lot more credit than they should and often take credit for other people’s work. Narcissists will also find ways to blame other people for their problems. The best way to deal with a narcissist is to let them have their fifteen seconds of fame but stand up for yourself when they take credit for your hard work. Also, set boundaries for the way they treat you and refuse to take responsibility for their failures.
  2. The Bully: The truth about bullies is that they have severe insecurity issues. Because they are constantly afraid of being hurt by other people, they hurt other people first. It is a way for them to get attention and also have a good reason for why people don’t like them. Deal with a bully by trying to be friends with them. Talk to them politely and ask them if they would like to get a drink after work (as colleagues). If that doesn’t work, then just keep your distance from them. If they do try to bully you, tell them firmly but politely that they cannot talk to you like that or you will report them to HR. 
  3. The Deadweight: The deadweight is that one person who is always holding the team back because of delayed or substandard work. Working with a person like this can be very stressful, especially when deadlines are around the corner. If a co-worker is consistently not delivering, first talk to them and try and find out why. There may be a genuine reason, like health or family problems that are affecting their work. Alternatively, you could ask a manager to deal with the situation but suggest that they also try and find out the reason first. 
  4. The Pessimist: The pessimist can drag everybody down with their negative outlook on life. They like to find a problem with every plan and strategy and their only contribution is to tell you why something will never work. Pessimists are best dealt with optimism. When they say something can’t work, challenge the notion and propose that you work on a solution together. Be constructive rather than being sucked into their doubt.    
  5. The Flypaper: These are the co-workers who want to get too close to you. They might not be bad co-workers but they can make your work-life uncomfortable. They are the ones who are always hanging around you, wanting to know every detail of your life. Without being rude, tell them that you are not comfortable discussing your personal life with colleagues and ask them to leave and let you work.

Regardless of what type of bad co-worker you are dealing with, try your best to avoid confrontation. Remain calm and handle the situation politely or report the behavior if necessary.