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Going to work everyday can be a very stressful and frustrating situation when you're dealing with a difficult co-worker. If you have to work closely with a person who has a negative attitude, it can turn performing even the smallest of tasks together into a total nightmare. Learn how to effectively handle a problem-causing co-worker in order to maintain your sanity and your work productivity.
Lend an ear to your co-worker. Although you may not like it at first, it may go a long way in improving your work relationship. People often act out in order to receive attention from others. A co-worker with a bad attitude may feel like no one ever listens to her. Listen intently to what your co-worker says, and make a point to show her that you are concentrating on what she is saying with occasional nods and questions.
Change your scenery for a few minutes. Work days can be strenuous and long. Sometimes, all you might need is a slight, temporary change in scenery. The more time you spend around someone (especially under stressful circumstances), the more they will probably get under your skin. Take quick "time outs" every couple of hours. Either go for a five minute outdoor stroll or sit in the company lounge by yourself with a hot cup of coffee. Refresh yourself so you may be able to come back to your co-worker with a better state of mind (and more energy).
Communicate with your co-worker. Understand that if you do not voice your concerns to your co-worker, it is unlikely that she will ever change. After all, she may not even know that a problem exists. If you are unable to confront your co-worker, then you will have to find other ways to cope with how you feel. Politely ask your co-worker if she can speak with you outdoors or in another room for a few minutes. Without accusations and blame, openly talk to her about what is bothering you. Ask her if you do anything to bother her, as well. Go back and forth together on how to come up with a solution that both of you can handle.
Stay away from your co-worker. If your co-worker is truly affecting your work and overall attitude in a bad way, simply stay away from her whenever you do not need to communicate for work reasons. When you do need to communicate with her, establish strict boundaries for yourself. Tell yourself that you will not let her negativity upset you and that you will realize that the behavior has nothing to do with you and is her own problem. Promise yourself that you will never indulge her when she does anything to upset you, whether it is criticizing you, gossiping or even talking too loudly on her cell phone.
Treat your co-worker as nicely as possible, even though it may be tough for you. When someone is treating you kindly, it can become significantly more difficult to treat her badly in return. Speak to your co-worker in a kind way. She may even feel guilty about her mistreatment of you and change her behavior (or at least improve it).
If the situation with the co-worker is getting out of hand, you may have no choice but to seek help from your supervisor or your company's human resources (HR) department. If necessary, request a private appointment with the appropriate go-to person. For confidentiality purposes, refrain from speaking about the matter with anyone else from your job.
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