"Queen has been a thorn in Yvonne's side since her first day at Heire Limited. They shared the same office space and worked on the same projects in the office. But Queen made each day miserable for Yvonne. She was verbally abusive, frequently shot down any ideas Yvonne had, stole credit for the work she had done, and spoke ill of her to anyone who would listen. Yvonne is at her breaking point, she doesn't know what to do."

Dealing with difficult people is a certainty of life. You meet them in every aspect of life: at work, at home, in school, in long queues at the cinema, and in traffic, literally everywhere.

But a difficult colleague can make life a living hell for you. You can choose to ignore annoying people in other places or even retaliate, but at work, such actions may have severe consequences. 

So how do you cope with the co-worker from hell? Try these tips:

Tip 1: Try to avoid them

The best way to avoid drama with a difficult co-worker is by staying away from them. If you work together and have to communicate often, stick to work topics only. Be concise, professional, and pleasant. Try to ignore insulting comments that may cause you to flare up.

If you share an office space with them, noise-cancelling headphones can help you shut out their comments and voice.

Physical distance can also be useful. You can move your desks, so you are out of their reach, or switch offices if your supervisor allows it.

Tip 2: Use emotional detachment

Emotional detachment, in this sense, means willingly disconnecting from the feelings of other people (in this case, the bully). A good strategy is to pretend you are studying them like an organism and figuring out what makes them tick.

This ensures that you don't take their actions personally while helping you tune them out.  You never know, you might learn a couple of things about them that will make dealing with them easier.

Tip 3: Talk to them about it

If a co-worker's actions and/or language is making the work environment very difficult for you, talking to them about it is a good step to take.

Without using abusive language, explain what the problem is and give them a chance to explain their side of the story. Try to focus on the specific problem and avoid making it about the co-worker as a person.

For instance, instead of "you are a very rude person who lacks manners."

Opt for "sometimes, you come across as condescending when you communicate under pressure."

Talking to them might give you an insight into their mindset and personal issues that may be affecting their behaviour at work.

Tip 4: Talk to a supervisor

If tip 3 fails, try this one. Your co-worker may resist all attempts to discuss and resolve the issue. When this happens, it might be a good idea to get a manager, or supervisor involved. If your co-worker's behaviour violates the company's HR policies, the issue can be dealt with according to the company’s code of conduct. A supervisor/manager can also serve as a mediator between you and the person.

Before reporting the issue, consider if it's worth escalating and make sure to collect evidence of their inappropriate behaviour.


Humans spend a large majority of their time on Earth at work, so it's important that the workplace is healthy. Good working relationships are essential for a healthy work environment and peace of mind. Although bad co-workers may try to steal your peace, but these tips will help you manage them effectively.


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