How to handle a difficult peer at work

Office Politics
21 Oct 2022

We’ve all been in a place where we’ve had to face difficult people or a difficult peer. But, in an office, the situation escalates because you can’t particularly avoid them. Dealing with them becomes a hassle because you know that they’re being improbable, and then again, your patience seems to run out quite fast.

However, there are techniques that you can use to deal with such difficult people at work. If they’re slowing you down or causing trouble, you can always take a step back and think before reacting—difficult people aren’t new to the world. They’re everywhere, and now we have methods of dealing with them.

Here is how one can deal with a difficult peer at work.

Firstly, be calm.

There’s no point if you get agitated over how they aren’t listening to you or going on about their day or not co-operating. You must handle the situation calmly so you can defuse any underlying tension if any. To get them to work with you, staying calm is the best solution.

If you are calm, you will be perceived as someone who is reliable and as someone who can handle the situation better.

Understand them

Try and see why they’re behaving the way they are. No one wants to be a difficult person to work with, so there’s always going to be a reason as to why they are being improbable. Try and figure out what the underlying reason may be as to why they are triggered. Figure out if there’s anything that’s stopping them from cooperating with you.

If you try to understand why they’re behaving this way, you might find a solution as to how to tackle this situation better.

See things from their perspective

Always try and see why they’re behaving the way they are, from their side of things. It’s always easy to judge, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. But, try and think of how it’d be for you if you were them. Try and empathize with their situation and see if you find a solution then.

Speak to others

Try and speak to your colleagues about why this person is behaving in the manner that they are. You might learn some things from them that might invariably help you out, and in hindsight, make you see things differently. You might learn a new method on how to work with them and this will make everything a lot easier.

Speak to the person

Communicate with them and let them know that you are finding it hard to work with them if they have an issue with you. Communication might be intimidating, but it is essential for you to network and build contacts. Sometimes, and most often, they are only being difficult because they think you are being difficult. Sometimes, sorting things out verbally can end feuds before there are any.

Respect them

If you treat them differently just because they are being difficult with you, gives them more reason to be difficult with you still. Treat them kindly and with respect, and engage with them as much as you should. No one likes to be treated coldly, and when they see that you are respecting them even after they’re being the way they are, they might turn around.


Sometimes, even after all the effort that you put into finding out what the reason is for them to be difficult, it still won’t help change things. What you can do after this is ignored. If it doesn’t get in the way of your work and only affects you mentally, try and focus on better things to keep your mind off this. Ignorance is bliss like they say.

Speak to a superior

If things get out of hand, there is no other way out. You must speak to a higher authority if they don’t change their ways and if they do not corporate further. Be careful while doing so, and do not use it all the time—your manager might think you can’t handle things on your own.

Sometimes, handling difficult people becomes almost intrinsic to our survival in the corporate world. Learning how to tackle these things becomes essential in learning how to grow in the workplace. After all, learning to get up on the corporate ladder means learning how to cope with different kinds of people—difficult included.

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