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There is one universal truth that everyone should know. You can’t change the way other people behave, but you can change the way you react to them. Are you in a job where someone in the office is making life very difficult? One negative coworker can ruin your mood and your productivity. But how do you counter that and not let it affect you negatively? Here are some tips for keeping your cool and maintaining your professional integrity while dealing with a coworker you’d rather not work with.

Acknowledge the specific problem.

Before you can do anything about it, you have to know what is wrong. Maybe you’re frustrated that another coworker is consistently late, seemingly without any consequences. Or maybe their negativity is affecting the way the rest of the team approaches typical problems in your department. Once you recognize the problem, you can start to alter your response to it.

Think before you react.

Email is a great example of this. Everyone has received an email and fired off a direct and sometimes curt response. Once the communication begins to go poorly it is difficult to recover. In all of your interactions with and about the person in question, take some time to think about your responses before you make them.

Walk away when you can.

You do not have to be in the middle of any conflicts. In fact, you should specifically remove yourself from the drama as often as possible. Don’t allow yourself to be bated into an argument. You can also say no to projects or help with this person if they are out of the scope of your job. Don’t allow them to bully you into taking action you don’t want to take.

Put yourself in their shoes.

A person who is negative in the office is almost never acting that way for no reason what so ever. Do you remember the school bully when you were a kid? They did not behave that way because they wanted to. School bullies usually had stress at home or other issues they were dealing with. Consider what the negative coworker might be dealing with at home. Can you offer to help in any way? Don’t put yourself in a bad position but you may actually be able to provide assistance depending on the situation.

Remain positive.

In the face of constant negativity, be positive. Always look on the bright side. Counter negative statements with positive ones. When something goes wrong take action to create a solution rather than complain about the processes that led you down the wrong path. Positivity goes a long way and can help improve the mood of the entire team.

Talk to management.

Finally, if the experience in not getting any better it may be time to talk to you manager to determine a realistic solution. But don’t approach them simply to complain. Share details that have affected the morale or productivity of the rest of the team. Ask for management’s help in solving this problem.

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