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How to Handle Difficult Co-workers

In the workplace, people are sometimes very moody and very difficult to work with. Their attitude comes out just like they haven’t done any work on themselves or haven’t learned to control their emotions, and they snap at people, or they don’t care, or they’re angry, or they’re yelling or screaming, something like that – or being passive-aggressive, which means they’re being aggressive but trying to pretend that they’re not being aggressive. What you need to do, probably, is not react and not take it personally, because they’re probably having a bad day.

But what you could do when there’s a little more calm is you could talk about it later and you could say, “You know, are you okay? Like you seem to not be doing so well,” and see if they’re open to talk and maybe they’re not. So you have to wait for another time.

Let’s say you have a boss who really screams and yells. The best thing to do is actually to confront them and say, “You know, I really want to learn this. I really want to do well.” Let’s assume you didn’t make a huge mistake but they’re just being irritable and yelling. You say, “This yelling really doesn’t work for me. I really want to do this job and I really want to learn and I really want to do better than I have. Your yelling doesn’t make it easier. It makes it worse. I really don’t like that, and I’m not sure I can take that much longer.” 

If the boss doesn’t back off on that, then you probably do need to get a different job because he’s probably doing that with everybody. Now, what happens if you do confront him and he stops, he might still do it with everyone else who hasn’t confronted him. It’s an improvement because you don’t get to experience it anymore, but it would be nice if he didn’t do it to everyone. I have seen bosses back off, and I’ve also seen bosses who won’t change and the person has to leave and go work for somebody else because it’s just too intensely negative an environment to work in.

Now, as far as your attitude as a worker: you should kind of think of your job as something that you can be faithful to and give your all to. If you have a terrible attitude towards your job, you should find something else, because you’re putting out a very negative energy by complaining about it, or being mad about it, or hurt about it, or resentful that you have to work at all. Then your attitude is really bad, and you need to change that. What we tell our spiritual students is you treat your boss like it’s God, and you’re faithful to that and caring about what you do and conscientious in everything that you do. For the Christians, you can treat your boss like they’re Jesus and that you’d be faithful to what they ask you to do, as long as it wasn’t unlawful, and that you do it with the same heart that you would if you were serving Jesus himself. That’s a high calling.

Not too many people can do that, but you could certainly strive for it.

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