I’ve got 99 problems and my co-worker is one

Your boss is great, you get along with your co-workers and for the most part you really like your job.  In fact, you would have the best job ever if it wasn't for that one person...that one person who is always spreading office gossip or that other guy who always made rude comments.  It just makes for an uncomfortable situation when there are those few people who cause bumps in the road.  How do you approach that?  You can't just call someone out in front of the whole office...or can you?  Here are a few common issues that occur in the office and some tips on how to handle the situations.


Bullying is a negative behavior that includes but is not limited to verbal threats, personal attacks or purposely excluding other co-workers.  It goes without saying that bullying can create stress and cause the work environment to be unpleasant.  How can you stop or prevent this from happening?

  • Look into policies the company may have.
  • Look into laws created by the state or country.
  • Use your voice to calmly and directly approach the person.
  • Consult with management or HR about possible solutions.

Embarrassing Situations

Unfortunately embarrassing situations occur all the time. Whether it is something that happened to you or you saw it happen, you immediately want to run and hide. Well, before you use that option, check out some others that may help you learn how to dissolve some of the embarrassment.

  • Acknowledge the situation with a small joke (for example if it was you who was embarrassed).
  • Deal with it-do not ignore because it will only prolong the embarrassment.
  • Stay relaxed and keep composure.
  • Never assume.
  • Keep the acknowledgement brief.

Friend or foe?

It seems as though there is always that one person who is nothing but smiles and compliments to your face, but as soon as you turn your back it seems as though they try to undermine everything you do.  Often referred to as frenemies, these people make the work environment an edgy place to work.  How can you rely on them?  How do you know their best interest is for the company?

  • Evaluate your own behavior.
  • Do not assume.
  • Do not retaliate.
  • Use a different point of view-if you were the boss, how would you want the situation to be handled.
  • Approach with a clear sense of purpose.

Distraction because of a co-worker's appearance

So there is this new intern.  She is about 20 something, super cute, but wears tiny skirts and low cut shirts.  Not a bad outfit for the clubs but for the office? Should you say something? Or pretend not to notice?  The customers are beginning to take notice and do not have positive comments. There needs to be a change, but how should this be approached without hurting feelings or creating an awkward situation?

  • If you manage someone who is violating the dress code then it is your responsibility to bring attention to the situation.
  • Be helpful, not hurtful.
  • Use the correct terms-do not use "cute" words or words that have a certain stigma.  It is important to be straightforward.

The office gossiper

Have you heard the latest?! Office gossip is so two years ago!  Or so I heard...

Wait, when has gossip ever been a positive trend?  I doubt it has ever been positive but it seems to always happen.  Gossip is often unavoidable, but here are a few tips to try to limit its existence from the workplace.

  • Polite, straightforward confrontation.
  • Be careful what you share-keeping your personal matter private does not allow the gossiping to pertain to you.
  • Distractions. Make it so that the office gossiper does not have time to gossip but is busy helping in any possible way.

The rude co-worker

There are also the kinds of people who use sarcasm as a means of communication.  That or they are always rude.  Being around negativity decreases productivity and makes the work environment negative as well.

  • View the situation from both sides to ensure you are not overreacting.
  • Talk to a friend who is not part of your work.
  • Do not blame.
  • Use your kindness and positivity whenever you are around this person.
  • Be clear and assertive.
  • Speak with HR or a manager.

So here are a few tips on how to approach sticky situations.  However most of them involve some form of communitcation with that person or someone of a higher position such as a manager.  Make sure that you tactfully bring these issues to attention and that you are not reverting to your childhood notions of tattling.  The issues should be serious enough that they affect the productivity and morale of the team, not a personality or personal conflict.  Furthermore, it is usually better to directly confront the person first.  Many times a person does not recognize his or her actions are distracting and a direct approach can easily solve the issue without involving unnecessary parties.  Lastly, make sure that while bringing attention to these issues, you are looking for a solution and not just complaining.


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