A hard fact of life is that, in any career, we are all going to encounter difficult personalities. This could come in the form of difficult co-workers, a micro-managing boss or someone who is just a plain old jerk. It’s never pleasant to have to deal with these people, but there are thankfully ways th

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at you can cope with unpleasant bosses and co-workers without impacting your own reputation or productivity.

Pick Your Battles

You’re not going to get along with everyone all the time. So, when it comes to difficult situations, remember that you have to pick your battles. If a co-worker is being unpleasant or annoying but you don’t really have anything at stake in the conversation, try to resolve it and walk away without causing a scene or arguing.

Keep Calm and Carry On

One of the best ways to deal with difficult co-workers is to remain cool yourself. Unreasonable people often try to egg others on or to try to create drama where there shouldn’t be any. If you are starting to feel angry or upset, try to excuse yourself. Get to a quiet place and count to ten. Really. With the added time, you will have gotten to a calmer place and will be better able to handle the situation.

Be Proactive

It’s easy to get into a place of reacting to the words and actions of others at work. Remember that you can be proactive, too. Try not to personalize other peoples’ behaviors and instead try to look at their actions objectively. Taking time to reduce misunderstandings can help. Proactively initiate conversations so issues don’t simmer. You are an active participant in your workplace dynamic.

Use Humor

One way to fight back and also resolve a situation is to bring your sense of humor into the mix. People love to laugh, and it can definitely help to lighten the mood if you are willing to have a good-natured attitude and add a little humor into the mix. Just be sure to note the difference between light-hearted humor that can diffuse a situation and sarcasm, which can make it worse.

Lead by Example

This is sometimes easier said than done, but you can do a lot of great work at your company by being a good model for positive communication and relationships. Instead of following the negative or destructive patterns of others, you can set your own example and lead the way by initiating new and healthy behaviors. You’ll be surprised by how people respond to you.

It’s not always easy to handle uncomfortable situations at work, but what it boils down to is finding a workplace that helps you thrive. There’s no reason to subject yourself to an unhealthy environment when there are so many great options out there waiting for you.