Dealing with difficult people at work while working overseas: A common setback in working in a multicultural workplace is the difficulty in dealing with different people with diverse cultures and beliefs.
You may encounter a workmate who does not respect your culture, criticizes your practices, gossips a lot, and is uncooperative, always absent, rude, arrogant and just very difficult to work with. This kind of person might hinder your success in work if not dealt with accordingly.
Do not put yourself in a compromising situation by succumbing to his destructive behavior and attitude. Take necessary steps to cope with this kind of person and make your work more bearable and enjoyable.
Getting along with difficult people at the workplace causes stress and anxiety. If persistent and left unresolved, it will not only lead to depression but may also gravely affect one’s performance at work or worse, it may even result in quitting the job.
It takes maturity, patience and understanding to be able to have a healthy relationship with your co-workers. In an intercultural office setup, adapting to people with different nationalities is the key to workplace survival.
No amount of college education will ensure professional behavior. College degree or diploma will not guarantee a pleasant relationship with your colleagues.
Having good interpersonal skills will really help you out of this tight spot. So breathe and relax because here are some of the general tips in dealing with a difficult co-worker:
1. Less interaction, less tension.
The best way of staying away from trouble with your co-worker is as much as possible, avoid any interaction with him/her. If his behavior does not directly affect your work, it is better to let things as they are.
Otherwise, if you are already affected by the way he behaves and interacts with you, that is the time you find a way to relieve the tension.
2. Set aside ‘your’ prejudice.
Give your co-worker the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump into conclusion based on what your other colleagues say about him/her. They might be wrong with their judgment and it would be unfair to your co-worker.
Don’t allow yourself to be affected by your own prejudices on a specific nationality. Do not generalize your perception on a certain person based on what you had experienced with people of the same race. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all white people are racists. Not all blacks are bad people.
Stereotyping and branding your co-worker will just worsen the situation.
Be open-minded and embrace your diversity. He/she might have an unfavorable attitude, but as long as it does not affect your work, and both of you are just doing fine, then there’s nothing to worry about.
3. It is okay to criticize as long as it’s constructive.
If you are in a situation contrary to the previous discussions, that is, your co-worker’s behavior is already causing you so much stress, then it is time to speak up. Bring the problem to his/her attention directly and privately. Find the right time and place to tackle with him/her the issue.
Timing is everything!
Make sure to have a proper tone and composure while you talk. Negotiate in a diplomatic manner and don’t be too harsh. You might worsen the situation instead of smoothening things out.
Maybe your co-worker just needs someone to point out the problem with his/her behavior. Most of the time, these kind of people are not aware that there is an issue with the way they act.
People are like transparent bottles. They don’t exactly know what is inside them; they can’t see themselves the way others perceive them to be. So try talking to him/her and see if it will solve the problem. If nothing has changed after the talk, escalate the issue to your manager.
Examine your own behavior and your relationship with your co-workers. Perhaps the way your co-worker interacts with you is a reflection of how you compose yourself at work.
You may not be able to change other people’s behavior, but you can control and change yours.
Let this be a lesson for you to learn.