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Coworker Cooperation

published November 05, 2007

( 20 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)

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How do you deal? You can't run, and you can't (and don't want to) switch jobs, but misery does not make good company. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. Now, this doesn't mean you must subject yourself to verbal abuse or anything like that; rather, you simply need to realize that your social network is in jeopardy.

Isolating a coworker or making him or her feel uncomfortable can't be the answer. Although it's hard to really get along with every single person in your workplace, deciding to exclude an individual could prove to hurt you in the end. If you eventually decide to leave your job, you could run into a previous coworker again. It could happen at your next job interview, when he or she is in a position to hire you for a job!

Working in close proximity with others means that you need to play nice. Perhaps you won't hang out with these people after hours; perhaps you will. Try to think of good karma and be as pleasant as possible.

Below are some tips that may help you overcome your difficult-coworker dilemma:
  1. Respect and be respected. Respect your peers, as you never know when you will need their assistance and guidance in a task. If you realize that your talents are meant to benefit the same team, your relationship can be one of mutual respect rather than one of negative energy.

  2. Listen and be patient. Sometimes the best thing to do is to listen to what someone is saying to you. Your coworker might just need someone to talk to, and although you may be busy, a quick chat during your break won't hurt you. Or you could plan a lunch or coffee date with that employee and expand your professional network; he or she would probably love the company!

  3. Don't gossip too much. Workplace chatter always includes a bit of gossip, but don't go overboard. Focus on your work and try not to give in to the office gossipmonger. It gives the individual more fuel to add to the flame, and you don't want to get burned!

  4. Swallow your pride, at least in the workplace. Remember that this person is someone you work with and need to be civil with. Your reputation is important, and you do not want to be known as the difficult employee. If you get involved in office politics, try to step back and remove yourself from the situation. Then, if you still feel the need to express your opinions, do so in a calm and collected fashion.
Now, I'm not saying you need to become best friends with everyone in your office, but retain a level of dignity. You see these people every day, and you interact with them a lot, so keep your attitude in check. If a coworker decides to bully you, harass you, etc., talk to your boss about it. There could be other coworkers that feel the same way, and you could be saving them from ridicule as well! As long as you do your work and keep it professional, there is no reason you can't progress within a company peacefully, working with anybody.