First Person: Dealing With Difficult Coworkers

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I detest salespeople. As a matter of fact, I despised salespeople even when I was a salesperson. More often than not, salespeople are aggressive, abrading and all-round problematic to deal with. Just about every single one I have ever encountered was challenging to get along with -- including yours truly.

All the same, despite my antipathy for my fellow sales professionals, I had to learn how to get along with them and (in several cases) even learn how to meliorate my on the job relationships. And, while doing this was easier said than done, I did it with tremendous success by employing three simple tactics.

Concentrate on the Positive

Rather than thinking of the things I didn't like about my colleagues, I took the high road and focused on what I did like about them. For instance, I once worked with a spirited and completely irritating dreamer who drove me eight directions from around the bend; even so, he was a very crisp, fashionable dresser. Every time he got under my skin by being "him", I focused on his perfectly pressed shirt or beautifully shined shoes. Eventually, his bothersome habits got to a lesser extent chafing, and I was able to look beyond the vexations. I ended up working very well with him for three straight years, sans complaint.

Professionalism Counts

As a woman in sales (a profession that's typically a man's world) you have to be above reproach. Regrettably, many salespeople are less than professional. I worked with many unrefined, ill-mannered colleagues who believed it was entertaining to crack inappropriate jokes in the workplace or who made a sport out of starting up controversies or arguments. When this occurred, I learned to behave like a lady and walk away from the conflict. I made certain that I above reproach at all times. Eventually, my transgressing workmates got the hint that I was not going to endure their swinish conduct and they stopped doing it in my general vicinity.

I Tried Random Acts of Kindness

I learned that when it pertains to prickly people, they got a great deal less barbed when they are shown a little kindness. I learned that by doing simple things like grabbing my colleague a cup of coffee in the morning, bringing him a snack in the afternoon or chipping in for his birthday cake made a difference, and helped our work environment. It did not have to be a major life-altering gesture, but I found that a few small acts of kindness warmed up even the nastiest employee. In fact, many of even the most problematic colleagues I had over the years reciprocated my gestures of kindness.

Granted, I was never a big fan of being friends with my fellow workers, (difficult or not) but I always did my utmost to create a united and productive environment. After all, you do not have to like everybody you work with, but not hating your coworkers makes your eight-hour shift far easier to swallow.

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