Life & Work Skills

How to Stay Positive When You Butt Heads With a Coworker


It’s one thing to accept that in the first few years after college you may have to endure a job or two that isn’t your favorite, but usually there’s a good coworker or office friend around to lessen the pain. Well, what happens when the good coworkers are few and far between and you actually butt heads with someone in the office? Whether you’re getting into some kind of passive aggressive argument, feeling like someone is after your job, or maybe just feeling too different from your peers to feel like you fit in, staying positive can be tough.

These five tips can apply to multiple situations and will hopefully leave you feeling confident and more at ease while at work. Although, I would still highly recommend always having a bottle of wine ready and waiting for you when you get home.


1. Make sure your manager is in your corner.

Don’t run to your manager and try to create an even more dramatic situation, but if it comes to your attention that someone isn’t happy with your work (or just you in general), it’s important to touch base. Try to handle everything as best you can first, but if things start to get ugly fast, it will definitely help to have your manager up to speed and backing you up.


2. Don’t overthink it

It’s easy to let your mind run wild after you find out Barbara from accounting has been gossiping about you to anyone who will listen. Questions like, “Does everyone agree with her?” or “Am I really that terrible of a person?” might be some of the first things to come to your mind. One word — don’t! You have no reason to be so hard on yourself, and most of the people Barbara talks to probably take everything she says with a grain of salt anyway.


3. Hold back your emotions

In the moment, it may seem impossible not to have an emotional reaction to whatever your situation may be, but do what you can to hold it together. When I had a confrontation with someone at work once, I bawled my eyes out (oops). If you can manage to hold back the tears (or the anger) and allow yourself to think clearly, you’ll definitely have a better chance of sticking up for yourself and being taken more seriously. When you get home, though, feel free to let it rip.


4. Don’t gossip about it

As tempting as it may be to go find the one work buddy you know would be on your side in this situation and gossip all about it — don’t do it. If you really need to vent about it, which is totally acceptable, I recommend finding a friend outside of work who’s just willing to listen. You don’t need to take up a whole evening talking about how much you hate someone, just vocalize why it hurt you and then move on.


5. Kill it every day

Sometimes it’s best to focus on what you can control, and in this case, it’s your work. You can go in and just kill it every single day. That way, no matter what any of your coworkers (looking at you, Barbara) have to say, you’ll know you did everything you could to do your job to the best of your ability.


How did you deal with a difficult coworker? What methods worked for you?