Master Plan to Deal with Coworker Personality Conflicts

Dealing with Personality Conflicts in the Office

Ever heard the saying “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”. This goes for the workplace too – “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family OR your coworkers”. It’s not a stretch to say we’ve all run into “annoying” people we must work with from time to time.

Usually the reason you find them annoying is because there is a personality conflict between the two of you, pure and simple. However, when it comes to the workplace, you must learn how to work with others when there are coworker personality conflicts. If not, risk being singled out as the difficult one in the equation!

Play Nice with Others

You do not like this person, you do not want to work with this person, but tough, you have to work with this person. This is one of the most difficult situations in the workplace. The good news is, learning how to work with someone “who rubs you the wrong way” has the potential to let you shine and further your career. It’s all about playing nice.

Here are some quick rules of thumb to follow at work:

  • Keep it professional – do not resort to personal attacks or observations
  • Focus on the facts – do not dwell on hearsay, assumptions or knee-jerk reactions
  • Own up to mistakes – do not play the blame game, admit when you are wrong to set the right example for others to follow
  • Work the problem – do not dwell on what went wrong, what happened, happened, the goal should always be to move forward

Challenging Personalities

Sometimes playing nice with others won’t work. In these types of cases, the personality conflict is difficult to overcome and keep things on an even keel to stay professional. Like we discussed in the previous blog about bad bosses, they usually fall into specific categories.

Challenging coworker personalities may include bullies, complainers, gossips or slackers. In these types of extreme cases there are some things you can do to work around the productivity squelching situations.


When you feel threatened by a bully at work, this is really a zero-tolerance situation. The best course of action is to document instances of bullying, contact human resources and avoid the person in question as much possible. There is never a justification to feel “unsafe” at work.


Call them out on their negative behavior. Sometimes people are so caught up in their lives, they don’t realize they’ve become a bummer to everyone around them. If they do, it’s still up to you to point it out and challenge them to come up with ideas or solutions to remedy the focus on the complaint. This will shut them down, since they most likely just wanted to complain and that’s it.


These are the most difficult to control or avoid. They love when they have the scoop and most peers love getting the scoop. Don’t fall into their trap. Avoid sharing anything confidential or personal with this type of coworker. You never know, you just might become the subject matter for the scoop someday. When they start into their “You won’t believe this” teaser, clear the area. Chances are they just want an audience, so don’t give them one.


Just like complainers, these types of coworkers need to be called out, but not by you. Make sure to do your work-related tasks and not get conned into doing their work. If you do, that’s your fault. Confide in a supervisor, but do so with real work-related instances, so you do not morph into a “complainer”.

Overall, always remember to be professional at work. There really is no cause to fly of the handle or engage in verbal battles if everyone focuses on what they are getting paid to do in the first place. Yes, some people may just rub you the wrong way, but they were hired to complete a job just like you, so keep it professional.

You never know, the annoying coworker might become a trusted source of knowledge and how you deal with them might gain you kudos from the boss. Because, lets face it, the boss doesn’t want to deal with a bully, complainer, gossip or slacker either!

Improve Communication with Fun Team Building

Larry Lipman of Fun Team Building has been facilitating team building meetings for over 20 years. Get past personality conflicts by letting Larry use his vast experience getting participants to open up and work effectively as a team. Call Larry at 770-333-3303 to set up a free 15 minute consultation.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>