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How to Handle a Bad Co-Worker

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Navigating Arguments with Co-workers: Strategies for Resolution

Arguments and conflicts in the workplace are not uncommon, often stemming from communication breakdowns or personality clashes. While many disputes can be resolved, frequent or unresolved arguments can create a toxic work environment. If you find yourself facing a recurring pattern with a specific co-worker, it’s essential to address the issue before it causes irreparable damage.

Below are some tips to help you effectively deal with argumentative co-workers. Please note that these suggestions are not intended for situations involving bullying or individuals with mental instability. In such cases, it is important to involve trusted decision-makers or Human Resources immediately.


1. Accept Responsibility

Recognize that it takes two to tango. Even if you believe you are not the instigator, acknowledge your role in the conflict. Taking responsibility allows you to take the next step toward resolution. However, if you feel your safety is at risk or the person involved displays concerning behavior, seek help from HR or a trusted leader.


2. Assess the Situation

In the heat of an argument, the natural response is to retaliate with hurtful words. Instead, remain calm and take a deep breath. Be the bigger person by actively listening to the other person’s perspective and responding respectfully. Only reply once you have understood their point of view. Remember, both of you are human beings, and most people prefer a harmonious work environment. If needed, take a step back and address the issue once you’ve had time to reflect on the discussion.


3. Take Concrete Steps

Once you have identified the root cause of the argument, develop a plan to resolve the issue. Avoid allowing the conflict to escalate and impact your daily tasks. If direct resolution with the person is challenging, determine who else should be involved. Be discreet and refrain from damaging the other person’s career by blowing the situation out of proportion. If intervention is necessary, approach the situation fairly and rationally, requesting discretion from those involved.


4. Know When to Walk Away

In some instances, arguments become unproductive, and logical reasoning seems unattainable. In such cases, it may be best to agree to disagree. Minimize direct contact with the other person, and explore alternative modes of communication or intermediaries. Establish clear boundaries, and if feasible, request that future communication occurs in a specific manner or through a mediator.


5. Most Conflicts Work Themselves Out

Stay positive and remember that many issues resolve themselves over time. Be open to flexibility and express your desire to improve the situation. Treat the other party with respect and dignity, and with time, they may reciprocate. Simultaneously, stand your ground and make it clear that ongoing disrespect will not be tolerated. It is crucial to maintain your composure and professionalism during conflicts, as this positions you as a mature party and garners support from others who may be asked to intervene.

While the above suggestions provide a starting point for better communication with argumentative individuals, they are not exhaustive. Several insightful books delve deeper into this topic. Taking immediate action when arguments arise is crucial to prevent stress and performance issues from escalating. Seek assistance if you are dealing with an unresponsive individual or if the situation involves bullying or mental instability. Different approaches may be necessary in such cases.

Share your experience dealing with combative or argumentative co-workers. Have you successfully resolved the situation? What strategies did you find effective?


Anjela Mangrum, the founder of Mangrum Career Solutions, is a trusted authority in executive recruitment for the manufacturing industry! She’s dedicated to matching top-tier candidates with rewarding opportunities in the field. Connect with her on LinkedIn and join the MCS LinkedIn group for the latest in manufacturing recruitment news and trends. Let’s partner in building strong and harmonious work environments!