Annoying Employees? Difficult Colleagues? Here’s How To Handle That

Difficult Employees? Colleagues? Here’s How To Handle That

I once read that in life we should be able to build rapport and have a genuine feeling of “like” for 85% of the people we meet/interact with. Which means that 15% of people we just are unable to connect with and no matter how we try we just won’t like, and vice versa 15% of the people we interact with won’t much care for us either.

There are all sorts of personalities in the retail workplace and that’s one of the great things about our industry – how we embrace diversity and inclusion. Our variety of perspectives and points-of-view allow for shared ideas and solutions for improved results.

Understanding that we are not designed to like or be liked by everyone there are some times when conflict will arise but if we are prepared and commit to civility and respect, that is the greater part of the battle. Understanding what makes us dislike some people is key to understanding how to deal with those feelings and get past them in the professional sphere. Here are some ways to diffuse your feelings of animous towards certain coworkers:

Reflect On Your History
I hate to admit this but I have a terrible association with the name “Becky”. It all stems from 4th grade. She was not overtly horrible at all, just a very polarizing personality. Every “Becky” I have ever worked with I have made assumptions about and I have to mentally coach myself out of making a hasty judgement about that person. So reflect on your history – is the first impression created by a memory or personal judgement as opposed to the deliberate behavior of the “Becky” standing in front of you?

Play Devil’s Advocate
Try to understand where the breakdown in communication took place. Try to approach things from the other person’s perspective. Don’t be too quick to judge malice when it just could be something misconstrued or poor bad delivery of information.

Re-evaluate Your Expectations
People work in different ways and at a different pace, communicate differently, set priorities differently. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it’s just their style. Expecting others to work in the same style or with the same focus as you is setting yourself up for disappointment and annoyance.

Take A Moment
If someone says something that you don’t like, take a moment to stop and compose yourself. Few social behaviors are explicitly meant to solicit ill will. Again, people communicate in different ways. The best thing to do after stopping and taking a few breaths is to open up a dialogue and let the other person know that there was a misunderstanding and try to resolve the issue. If this person is inclined to display passive aggressive behaviors and they make comments about your professional results the best thing you can do is thank them for their concern and feedback and move onto another subject. Do not engage them in the content of what they said. Thanking them and moving on will not produce their desired outcome if their comment was designed to hurt.

Embrace Postivity
Seriously – it sounds kooky but if you understand your “triggers” or the things that annoy you, you can diffuse the catalysts that put you on edge with people. According to Tina Tessina, Ph.D, “Use the power of charm to create a charmed life for yourself. People who are at ease, polite and socially adept, understanding and considerate are always charming and attractive.” Dress well, work on accepting compliments gracefully—without worrying about whether you deserve them—be pleasant, and smile.” Express gratitude when deserved – even if you don’t like the person but they did a great job…that will go a long way.

Stop Assuming
Assumptions or judgment is dangerous because you attribute your definition or motivation of what someone else said, did, or communicated which may be entirely incorrect. Again, ask questions in lieu of making assumptions. You will build a level of trust and respect with the person you have the issue with and get things out in the open so they cannot fester.

It’s true… there are people that can be:
or just plain

But how we deal with these people and attempt to promote communication, civility, and respect is going to determine the relationship we have with all of our coworkers. When I meet a “Becky” I want to scrunch my face up with displeasure but I have learned not all “Becky’s” are the same and when we fail to get to know someone or make assumptions about people, that is our deficiency to own as retail leaders. We are not made to like each other personally or professionally but we need to be kind to and supportive of each other. That will go a long way in making the workplace happier and more productive. After all, we are someone’s annoying colleague and can only hope that they choose to be kind and supportive of us.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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