Workplaces can be a great source of joy and fulfillment, giving people an opportunity to follow their fields of interest, and, for some, to make lifelong friendships. Unlike friends, however, choosing coworkers is not something we have much power over. There are many ways difficult coworkers might show their dislike for a colleague, either through direct and indirect language or actions. Unfortunately, sometimes personal feelings affect professional relationships.
They play workplace politics
Sometimes coworkers are talking about going out for lunch, sitting right next to you. But they don’t extend their invitation to you. These types of anti-social behaviors, can be very upsetting and may leave people feeling like outsiders.
Jealousy in the workplace may lead to the undermining of your ideas
When speaking with coworkers about an idea you have to improve a process, they all agree it’s a good concept. It needs the approval of someone outside the team to put it in place. You share your thoughts with that person, but they dismiss the idea even if it it’s easy to demonstrate that it’ll work well in practice.
The reason the idea might not be getting any traction could be because the person making the decision doesn’t like you, or they’re resentful they didn’t come up with the idea themselves. They may be envious of your status in the office, by the fact you use an executive desk and they only have a regular one. Or, maybe you have a bigger storage drawer than they do. These are prime examples of how jealousy in the workplace can lead people to let their emotions get in the way of recognizing good work when it’s presented to them.
They create conflict by taking credit for your hard work
Picture this: you’ve been working on a major project for the past few months, putting in lots of overtime. The work has been done by the team, but Team Member C has been far less diligent and committed than the others. However, Team Member C is close to the team leader or was present when key insights were shared that others missed. Once the project is complete, everyone is called into a meeting to receive feedback. The job has been done well and the manager is happy. Everyone is poised to hear positive comments about all the work that’s been put in, but it’s wrongly directed to Team Member C. Instead of being humble and pointing out that the personal praise was not deserved as it was a team effort, Team Member C accepts it.
This example of conflict at work could be interpreted as someone harboring negative feelings that lead them to act in petty ways, especially in front of others. It’s regarded as a type of psychological warfare and a way of one-upping others.
Difficult coworkers display negative body language and use passive language
If someone never makes eye contact, it may mean that they’re not engaged in what is being said to them or connecting with who is saying it. This could be a sign of personal dislike, and as a result, they have no interest in what is being discussed.
Some people use their bodies to communicate how they’re feeling. In situations where people turn their back on others, it’s a way of demonstrating their dislike by making others feel physically excluded. If a person sitting across from you has their arms folded when you’re speaking, it could indicate they’re stubborn or distant; neither of which is going to help get your point across. If they uncross their arms when others address them, it might be a subtle way of signalling that they’re more interested in showing respect to them over you.
Dealing with difficult coworkers is not something anyone really wants to do, but adopting some conflict resolution techniques may be the best step to finding common ground and improving relationships. As so much time is spent in the workplace, it’s best to tackle these issues head-on. Find allies, speak to managers or HR, keep a record of incidents in a notepad, and find a way to break down barriers between yourself and the person you believe is treating you unfairly.