As the saying goes, "One bad apple spoils the bunch."
A fellow blogger published a thoughtful post about the negative effect one difficult co-worker can have on a group. More to the point, she also talked about compassion. I was inspired to write. Here is a link you to her post. P.S., she is a much better person than me.
It is nearly impossible to develop a mutually supportive team when there is one co-worker thinking only about themselves. We've all been there. You know the type. Certain people make me want to throw up when they walk into a room. My stomach tightens, my thoughts constrict, and my posture instantly shifts into fighting stance. What we sometimes lose sight of is that those people behave badly because they are unhappy. Unless, of course, they are psychopaths, but that is another post...
I think back on my experiences in the workplace and I don't believe we can affect change in another person unless they want to be changed. So, maybe the kindest way to deal with a difficult co-worker is to detach? Easier said than done, but a worthy goal.
Maybe you don't want
to be kind to a difficult co-worker? I understand. Some people are really begging for a slapdown.
Still, a negative reaction to a negative action IS a double negative. That
can't be good, and although everyone else in the office would cheer you on if you want to kick the difficult co-worker's ass, Human Resources won't. Can't. And then your supervisor will have to haul you into her office to give you hell even though she was secretly cheering you on, too.
It seems like we do ourselves AND that difficult co-worker no favor if we allow them to drag us down into that miserable snake pit for troubled souls. Been there, done that. If we
allow other people to change us for the worse then we are complicit in
their bad behavior.
So maybe my sweet Momma was right when she said it was usually best to walk away from a fight? Why am I only listening to her advice now, when I am 64 years old and she has been dead for a year and a day? I wish I knew.
For what it is worth, I say let the negativity stay with the difficult co-worker. Detach, with compassion if you possibly can. There is always a reason someone is "difficult." Hey, it might make you smarter trying to figure it out. But the next time s/he complains about how much she hates her job, her boss, or the company she works for, be a pal and encourage her to find a different job. Then everyone wins.
Next: Part II, Supervising a difficult co-worker