How To Deal With A Difficult Colleague?

We each like to tell ourselves that the world is a wonderful place, where everyone can get along and love animals and lead sustainable lifetstyles and…………No! Unfortunately this just isn’t the case! Well at least not based on the week I’ve just had!

All I can say is, when it comes to petty fights, Mike Tyson ain’t got nothing on me! 

The work Foe

There’s a colleague in work whose personality can be summed up very nicely by one sentence and one sentence only, that being – personality type =  ‘there’s more life in the cemetery’. Now I’m not saying that I’m the next Will Smith but this colleague of mine would make a plank of wood look like the sassiest piece of timber you’ve ever seen if comparing them to eachother. Before I go off any further on a rant about how getting a conversation from them is like drawing blood from a stone, let me pause for just a moment to explain myself. 

I’m not having a go at anyone who is shy, I myself am quite shy, what I am stressing however is the situation that can evolve in the workplace when you put someone who doesn’t want to speak to you with someone who wants to ‘bond’ with a fellow teammate. Not wanting to talk and finding it difficult to talk are two very different things I must emphasise. I am merely poking at the idea of someone being reluctant to speak to me not someone who has trouble speaking to others.

Disclaimer made, let me now carry on with my rant because I feel like you too must have at some stage in your life had to deal with a difficult colleague, right? So imagine the following scenario, you’re at your desk and you’ve just said “Morning ‘colleague name’ ’” to which you hear the sound of absolutely nothing, you swear you can hear a pin drop from the printing room. Not being one to show discontent so openly, you bite your lip and take a seat at your computer. You then play out a scenario in your head of slamming there’s against their keyboard before you then quickly snap out of it as you suddenly realise the sad fact that once again you have to work with each other and afterall violence is not the answer (unfortunately). 

As the morning progresses, you delve further and further into your work with the hope that it will distract you from that nagging fact that you absolutely despise your work colleague. You’re 2 hours in and an email has just pinged into your inbox with a question which will have to involve you and your colleague ‘talking’ over just how you’re going to respond to the query at hand. You rise from your seat thinking happy thoughts to yourself as you make your way round to their desk, greeting them with a non-threatening expression (yet seething behind the eyes) and a friendly ‘hi X did you just see this email from Y that popped through?” Not one for eye contact they keep their expressionless face glued to their computer screen, with a subtle shrug they bat away your little question in one fell swoop. You double blink. Teeth gritted, you try again with the question quickly turning the gritted teeth into a toothy smile, afterall, with your manager looking on, you don’t want to seem like the psychopath within you is just simmering away in the background ready to appear at any moment. Waiting patiently finally the colleague gives you some eye contact to which they say ‘I’m not sure’. You nod politely while thinking ‘who gave the village idiot a job here’ and you then return to your seat none the wiser on how to tackle this mammoth question. 

You manage to pull together an answer and send it off to the recipient, with no help from chatterbox I must add. The day flies by, I mean every day in the office does, right? And just as you’re about to shut down your computer, another email labelled ‘urgent’ makes an unwelcome appearance. It’s addressed both to you and your colleague so you have to give this talking thing a second try. 

 

This time, their reaction is priceless……..

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