7 Ways to Deal with Difficult Remote Coworkers
Even if you’re working in a remote setup, you can never avoid difficult or toxic coworkers. In fact, it would be very surprising if a company doesn’t have at least one or two toxic individuals. Dealing with these kinds of people can be very stressful but it shouldn’t stop you from doing your best on the job. Here are seven ways to deal with difficult remote coworkers:
1. Immediately inform your supervisor
If you feel like a coworker is making unnecessary remarks about your work and/or personal life, then don’t give in to difficult coworker scenarios and inform your supervisor as soon as possible. Even if people are working from different parts of the country, professionalism should still be observed at all times. Inform your supervisor immediately so that the concerned employee will immediately be reprimanded for their actions.
In contrast, if the supervisor is the person in question then you should consider resigning from your work if there are no other higher-ups that can address the issue. Working with a difficult boss who enables a toxic workplace culture can be very detrimental for your long-term emotional and psychological health so don’t wait for a long time before filing for a resignation.
2. Assert yourself when necessary
Communication is one of the barriers when it comes to remote work. Not everything can be resolved in an online meeting and not everyone can be contacted immediately if there is some urgent work that needs to be done. In this case, this provides an opportunity for difficult colleagues to assert themselves in the situation at the expense of other employees.
If you are involved, don’t back down and also assert yourself. This situation is very prevalent when it comes to finishing tasks wherein difficult toxic work individuals talk their way out of working on complex tasks or forcefully assign tasks to other people even if they aren’t in the position to do so. They can also blame you for something you did in the past or something that you weren’t involved in the first place. Remember the more you give in to these kinds of people, the more it affects your performance and the less you will be considered for a possible promotion.
3. Don’t retaliate with insults
Difficult or toxic people are good with insults. Even if you blurt out the occasional insult every now and then, it shouldn’t become an excuse for you to do it on a regular basis especially with a coworker that isn’t worth anyone’s time. When you deal with difficult people in the workplace, there is no assurance that everything will play out smoothly but you also shouldn’t fight fire with fire and deal with them in a more dignified manner.
The easiest solution here is to ignore their actions and continue with your work. Staying silent is actually advantageous for you since you can focus on your productivity. The more these workers with negative personality traits will observe your high productivity, the faster they will leave you uninterrupted. But if these people are consistently on your tail, report them immediately to your supervisors or HR managers. You can also block them from your company’s messaging or video conferencing platform until they stop with their destructive actions.
4. Have a chat with them
Speaking of how to handle difficult workers in a dignified manner, you can also talk with them directly to understand their side of the story and create solutions on how you can strengthen your professional relationships with them. Dealing with the most annoying person can be tricky so make sure to prepare before initiating a conversation with them.
Never start the conversation in an angry mood but ask him or her directly why they treat you negatively or in a condescending manner. Specifically point out their actions that have affected you personally or professionally and map out possible solutions on how you two can solve it together. If they seem defensive and completely ignore your suggestions, it is best to stay away and start the conversation at another time. If they are still trying to create problems even if you’ve already talked it out, block them immediately and inform your boss of the situation.
5. Call or suggest a company-wide meeting
If you’re the one running your own company and have received complaints about some coworkers creating a toxic environment, then it’s time to call a company-wide meeting if individual sit-downs (in this case, online meetings) with specific employees haven’t worked out. But it shouldn’t also stop you from suggesting these types of meetings even if you’re not the boss or hold a managerial role.
Although it’s very easy to call out everyone who has done questionable actions in the company-wide meeting, avoid this scenario and instead thoroughly discuss with your employees on the company policies with regard to penalties that come with employee conflicts. You can also use the discussion as a platform to emphasize the importance of teamwork in a remote work setting.
6. Don’t be a willing participant
Even if you’re not a victim, you also shouldn’t be an enabler and join in on office gossip. Workers who regularly gossip may be productive but their questionable characters make them the people that you should avoid at all times.
When it comes to remote working, office gossip is done through chats and unrecorded online meetings. If people start gossiping or throwing insults at other employees, ignore the conversation and continue with your work. You can even block or hide the conversation if they pose as a distraction. Remember that you were hired to get tasks done, not get involved in unnecessary that will only affect your professional career in the long run.
7. File for a resignation
If all else fails, then resignation is your only option left. There is no point in having lengthy discussions where no resolution comes out of it. And it only becomes worse if the one you’re having conflicts with is your boss. Leaving is actually the best decision you will ever do if your mental health is regularly compromised by difficult people at work.
When submitting your resignation, remember to maintain a high level of courtesy and don’t lash out at our colleagues and/or supervisors. They may give you a bad reference and this can affect you when applying for another job. You can hold out with the complaining if you’ve already landed a new job. Also, give out a two-week notice of your resignation as this is a standard by most companies.
When dealing with difficult or toxic coworkers, the seven items listed above should give you a variety of options on how to address different situations. Just remember to stay professional at all times and never resolve any issue using hate and anger.