How do I Deal with Bad Coworker?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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At some point, everyone has come across a bad coworker. Some offices have one or two, while others are loaded with them. Whether your nemesis is the office gossip, the one who takes credit for your work, or a lackluster person who does nothing at all and leaves you to pick up the slack — a bad coworker can make your working life miserable. Dealing with this problem can be tricky, but the key can lie in remaining professional and establishing boundaries to create a healthier work environment.

Usually, addressing this problem directly with the bad coworker can resolve the issue. Letting upset feelings consume you will not help ease the situation. In fact, that could make it worse. In other words, while you are stewing in anger, the other person may have no idea that he has done anything wrong.

Be professional and respectful. The goal is to help the other person see things from your point of view. To do this, you will also need to try and see things from his or her perspective as well. Never confront a bad coworker in the presence of others, instead, ask him or her to speak with you privately.


Use the sandwich method to circumvent conflict and cater to your coworker’s ego. To do this, start and end with a compliment. The meat of the sandwich is when you specifically and professionally state what it is that he or she is doing to trouble you. Then, give the bad coworker an opportunity to respond. An open line of communication can not only lead to a resolution, it may create an unexpected friendship and mutual understanding.

Beware of the gossip-monger. While he or she may seem friendly when talking to you, the conversation can overflow with personal or inappropriate details about others in the workplace. Remember the adage, if they do it with you, they’ll do it to you. Engaging in such gossip is generally a bad idea. Politely tell him or her that you are not interested in hearing about the latest scandal and change the subject to a generic topic.

Negative people can drain your spirit and contribute to an overall miserable atmosphere. They never have anything good to say about anything, put down ideas, and complain all day long. You may have to work extra hard to fix this problem. While you may never be able to change the negative person’s outlook, you can infuse your conversations with positive influence. Combat negative comments with optimistic ones, and point out the silver lining whenever you can.

Sometimes the bad coworker is the boss. Perhaps he or she is taking all the credit for your hard work. Maybe he or she treats you unfairly, criticizes, or makes demands on you that are not made of others in the workplace. Whatever the circumstance is, dealing with a difficult supervisor can be distressing.

Take the time to study your environment. If the boss seems to treat you differently than other employees, see what other coworkers are doing that exempts them from such treatment. Depending on the situation, you may want to emulate their efforts. If that fails, you can also try the sandwich method to improve the relationship.


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Post 3

Nothing is more frustrating than to have to work with a coworker who is just so stupid. He should never have been hired. This was apparent pretty quickly. And then management compounded the mistake by not letting him go during his probation period.

Imagine if you hired a person whose job is to separate blue balls and red balls. Okay, you expect every once in a while a red ball accidentally gets in with the blue balls (or vice-versa), but it should be a rare thing right? Now imagine if this person constantly lets 10, 20, and sometimes 30 blue balls in with every 100 red balls. Then it's not a case of just "making a mistake"--what you

have here is someone who is doing the job wrong. This is basically the situation with my idiot coworker. He does his job wrong. But I'm the one who has to deal with it because I work directly with him.

After two years of this, I am ready to quit. Go into semi-retirement. I'd rather wait five more years but I don't know if I can last that long.

Post 2

@Pippinwhite -- I wonder if she worked with me. One of my former co-workers sat across the aisle from me and was always listening in on my phone conversations, if you can believe it.

One day, a co-worker with the same first name called in sick and I said, "I'll tell him, Ann." The "Ann" across from me blew up. "I heard you saying my name! Why were you saying my name?" She was nuts.

The only way to deal with her was to just shut down. If she figured out she was wrong, she would cut you off and refuse to discuss it. She got a job at the county courthouse. I'm thrilled she got a nice job and is completely out of my hair.

Post 1

It all depends on the person who is giving you trouble. One of my co-workers is always trying to get other people -- including me -- to do his work for him.

Even though I don't do what he does, I still have considerable seniority over him, and fortunately, I can tell him to do his own work and to stop telling me how to do mine.

But there are other co-workers I've had who made life miserable. One woman was moody, touchy and could be completely irrational. I never was so glad to see anyone leave a position in my life! She was really starting to get to me.

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