Regan & Dean | How do I deal with a colleague who always says no?

Difficult colleagues are found in every workplace and they can cause a lot of frustration, particularly if they are not pulling their weight. Whether it’s refusing to take on certain tasks, lend a hand or generally having a bad attitude, difficult colleagues can have a detrimental effect on the whole office. If you have a colleague who you are finding particularly difficult, there are some effective ways you can deal with the situation, without causing too much conflict.

Speak Privately

In some cases, it might be enough to have a private word with your colleague and ask if they can be a bit more accommodating. It may be the case that they haven’t realised how difficult they are being or what effect this is having on everyone. In most cases, speaking about it in front of everyone will do more damage than good, while a quiet word may help steer them in the right direction.

Don’t make it Personal

Make sure you’re clear what the practical issue is and stick to facts when you are discussing it - avoid making assumptions, or imagining intentions.  Be clear what the practical issue is, what it’s impact is, and what you are asking for.  De-personalising the issue before you raise it will help when you present your case and will make it easier for the request to be received - and acted on.

Be Mindful

No matter how frustrating your colleague is, be mindful that there could be other reasons for the bad attitude. Your colleague could have mental health problems or there might be other reasons why they are being difficult. We tend to just look at things in black and white, but there is often much more to it than this.  

Build Rapport

Building a better rapport is often the best first step, and can ease the way for raising more difficult issues at a later stage.  It will help build a better platform generally, and certainly a better one for raising issues if you need to.  

Stay Calm

There is no point in getting outwardly frustrated with a colleague, even if you are feeling it inside. Difficult colleagues can make life more difficult for everyone, but by getting angry about it, you will probably be the one who ends up in trouble! Stay calm when dealing with a difficult colleague and try to explain your point of view, as this will be much more effective.

Be Assertive

If you just make a joke about the situation, your colleague will probably just laugh it off and think nothing else of it. However, if you maintain an assertive (but calm) manner, you are more likely to be heard by your colleague. If your colleague is causing issues, you have every right to speak your mind about it.

Alert Manager

Sometimes there is no other choice than to alert your manager to a difficult colleague - if you’ve  tried to deal with it directly yourself without success, escalation is the right next step.  Be clear what the issue is, explain the steps you have taken to address it, and let your Manager do what they are are employed to do - it’s your job to work well with your colleagues, and it’s your Manager’s job to manage them.