Use Compassion To Combat Difficult Coworkers

Use Compassion To Combat Difficult Coworkers

The adage “Kill ’em with kindness” holds more water than you might think, especially when it comes to dealing with tough personalities in the workplace. Some people are just difficult to work with, and sometimes the best way to get along is to be compassionate with them.

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Unfortunately, you don’t always have the luxury of choosing who you interact with at work. We all know what it’s like when that coworker you hate talking to approaches your desk. Over at the blog Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, they propose a simple way to deal with them: be compassionate.

That isn’t to say you should apologise when it’s not your fault, or take responsibility for tasks that aren’t yours, but they do suggest recognising how defensive the person makes you, and try to approach the situation with understanding and openness instead of caution and attitude. It’s very possible that the person has the same trepidation working with you, or that their negativity would vanish if confronted with someone unfazed by it.

It takes practice, but its true: when you approach even the most difficult people in your workplace with an open attitude and a willingness to help, they’ll see value in what you do, and so will your manager. There will still be annoying people, and you’ll still have frustrating days, but the right attitude goes a long way towards making a difficult job more tolerable.

How do you deal with your irksome colleagues? Do you ignore them, or is it just a nightmare every time you’re forced to work with them? Share your office tips in the comments.

Managing Difficult Personalities In The Workplace: Tips to Maintain Your Sanity [Girls Just Wanna Have Funds]


  • Compassion does not always work. My wife is in this position where her manager finds fault with everybody but himself.
    Plays mind games with those he managers and basically makes work a living hell for those who work under him.
    You can only take so many grunts or smart a#[email protected] quips to your attempts to be friendly before you break down and give up.

  • Yeah, maybe on the Planet Fairy Floss. Doesn’t work on Earth with humans too well unfortunately. It’s my experience that the more you tolerate asshole behavior, the more it’s likely to persist (and often intensify). This article seems to suggest that the jerks we deal with everyday are only exhibiting this behavior as a kind of cry for help. I seriously doubt that is the case for most of the difficult people I have worked with. I think it’s more likely that they’re just born assholes, and if you tolerate their behavior, they read that only as permission to continue.

  • Agreed, rarely works.

    I found it more effective to inform a higher authority about their poor behaviour.

    Quite often managers are unaware of which people are disruptive beneath them, when they find out they often have a quiet word with them: “shape up or you are out of here” – and then it gets better.

    It also starts being monitored on performance reviews etc.

  • I’ve actually done this, and YES it works, I had an absolute ass of a work mate, we need to wrk as a team, and oh boy did compassion change his attitude to how he approaches everything, within 5-6 months, he does have his crazy days, but the frst few weeks was unbearble with his big EGO attitude and smart ass comments unbearable…, slowly but gradually realized i dnt giv a f* and hav only bene really polite, HELPful and considerate, he must have got tired of trying to be rude and rough, tryin to inflict arguments and anger…, BUT IT WRKED ! 😉

    • Ok, Good point.

      As long as people try to resolve issues before they resort to ‘putting the knives in’

      But ,we both thought that didn’t we 🙂

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