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What to do if your coworker pushes you over the edge

Even if you get along well with all of your colleagues, conflicts will still arise in the workplace, especially when there’s a tight deadlines, when it’s a particularly stressful period, or when two parties have opposing agendas, or simply different personalities. If a coworker is pushing your buttons, here’s what you can do in order to keep your cool.

Give yourself space

You don’t have to disappear or hide in a corner, but it can be beneficial to take a breather when a coworker is setting you on edge. Giving yourself space is the most effective way to prevent yourself from losing your temper and saying or doing something you might regret. When things intensify at work – and if voices are being raised or you feel the situation escalating to an uncomfortable point – it is best to excuse yourself from the situation.

Take a short break in a quiet room or go for a walk where you can clear your head. in order to resist the temptation to respond in anger, either verbally or in writing – sending out angry emails or messages in the heat of the moment does leave a paper trail of your frustration that could potentially further escalate the issue, involve other people and make matters worse.

Understand their intention

People are usually not difficult for the sake of being difficult. Even when you feel that the person is simply out to get you, there is often some underlying reason that is triggering them to act in such a manner. Try to identify what is making your coworker treat you in this way and then what it might be that is stopping them from cooperating with you.

Get others’ perspectives

In all likelihood, at least one person amongst your friends and family will have experience a similar situation. They will be able to look at things from another angle and offer a different point of view on the situation. Seek them out, share your problem and listen to what they have to say. You might find some valuable advice and solutions in amidst of the conversation.

Take them aside and confront them

If your frustration reaches an unhealthy level of resentment or creates an environment where you feel it is hard to focus on work, it’s appropriate to address the issue in a professional manner. Take them aside and start the conversation by gently asking if there is something you have done to offend them. Hear your coworker out, then you can rationally and reasonably discuss it. However, if they deny there is an issue, then at the very least they will be less likely to continue behaving poorly towards you, because they know that you are aware of the situation. It’s important to remain calm and rational. Don’t accuse or flare out, just state your case, listen without judgement and try to work things out.

If for some reason the two of you are unable to resolve the situation, then alerting your manager or HR is the next step. From there, you can hopefully find a solution that is acceptable for both of you.

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