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How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

Do you have difficult coworkers? For most of us, our work provides us with relationships that we wouldn’t normally have; relationships that might just be God’s way to help us grow. I think it’s interesting when I talk to people and they say things like, “All the people I work with are just terrible. They don’t love God. They’re unethical.” And I usually respond with, “Yeah, that’s where God’s calling you to be, so you can be this massive light in your work environment where there is no light.”

When dealing with difficult coworkers, the questions we have to ask ourselves are, can we believe the best in people? Can we call out the gold in them? Can we change the culture by bringing God’s love to them? It is incredible to see how people start to open up when you create an environment that helps them to feel safe, seen, and cared about.

No matter the particular challenges you face with your coworkers, my counsel always is this: let’s start by practicing love and honor. As you increase your ability to carry this standard yourself, watch how this can change your environment. That coworker that seems really mean-spirited is likely not being treated well by others. You have the opportunity to change that, to see them as a person, in their humanity, and give them a different experience, one they do not deserve. In short, you have the chance to give them what God gave you; love and honor that can transform!

Honoring people hold the core value that people are not inherently evil or bad. It is most often circumstances that dictate a person’s attitude. Have you ever heard the phrase “hurt people hurt people”? If you have someone, whether a boss or coworker, that is just really, really hard to be around, I invite you to try this experiment. See beyond their hurt and make a decision to use your words and actions to build them up. I think of it as calling out the gold in them. We can start by saying things like, “Hey, great job on that piece of work that you did” and “I really love how you wrote that,” or, “How was your weekend?”. Together, let’s see how love and honor can empower them. The best part is, these small changes do not cost us anything.

It is through the daily choice of practically choosing to call out the gold that we can build trust in our relationships with our coworkers and shift the culture of our work environment. No, this doesn’t work every time, and sometimes we do not get to see the impact of our actions immediately. Sometimes coworkers are so toxic you have to make a decision to have boundaries or talk to a supervisor about it. Regardless, your decisions can be made with love, and you just might be God’s plan to bring heaven to earth in a difficult workplace.

Have you seen this dynamic play out in your own life? Are you currently dealing with a difficult coworker? I would love to hear more about it in the comments below!

If you are interested in this topic and want to learn more about issues relating to Christian business, please checkout my website, As always, I would love to hear your feedback!



4 responses to “How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

  1. As an employer, how would you address a team member who,no matter what the subject matter, when you make a suggestion that something is done differently or you have to correct their behavior they always go on a 5-10 minute oratory with excuses and justification as to why they made that decision. I have had feed back from middle management about this same employee as well as having first hand experience. I behave in an honoring matter. I listen and then say, next time please to it how I have just asked you to, OK ? And then with a bit more repetitive excuse making they finally say OK.

    1. Thank you for reaching out! You have posed a great question, and one that many honoring managers wrestle with. I am assuming by your question and explanation that you have gone out of your way to honor and to communicate to this employee what is expected of of them with regard to communication. Depending on the size and procedural process of your organization, I would write this employee up. Their behavior is negatively impacting you and your team, and by not exercising strong boundaries and accountability you are allowing the other employees to see that it is okay to exhibit this type of behavior. Honoring confrontation is not aggressive, but is about asking great questions, In this case, “help me understand why when I give you feedback you feel the need to justify and correct me?” I would also recommend a weekly one-on-one meeting with this employee to hold them accountable for their work product, and their cultural participation within the company or team. In the end, if they do not change the culture they bring fit with your organization, it just may be a bad fit for both of you. I encourage you, by implementing strong boundaries your entire company and team will operate with more safety, communication and production!! Thanks again for reaching out!

  2. I manage a small motel and there is a swingers club directly across the street. It took 10 months to get to a place where I could from my heart genuinely smile at someone who rented a room to go over there. I had to tell them and still do to keep the party across the street. When I was saying that from a disgusted heart attitude they could tell and there was always tension in the air as I checked them in. I finally got to the place where I saw each person as a human being just like me that God loved and Jesus died for them. When I complimented a lady on her fake fingernails one night something shifted that night in the atmosphere and the place has been declining in popularity every since. You see, that little thing touched her heart in such a way and she felt like
    she was worth something and did make good decisions. They say around here that when the ladies realize that they are more valuable than that and quit allowing the men to use them that way the men will quit going and the place will close down. For the last year and a half or so Friday nights have been dead. The parking lot had gone from being full of cars (60-70 or more) to ten or fifteen on most Fridays. You see that one compliment was an earthquake in the spirit realm and is still having after shocks. Now I still remind people to keep the party over there but then I can also tell them to have a good time and laugh with them. I know what God is doing even if they don’t. I always focus on the lady and love on her if I can. It was a process to get to this place especially after rooms had been trashed and furniture broken. Now they respect me and the this motel and the party stays over there. Yay! Jesus wins!!

    1. Wow. This would be a very challenging situation and it can be very hard to be honoring of others when our values are in such opposition. But you are right, we do not battle with flesh and blood, but with principalities. As you shared this, I was reminded of the woman at the well. Jews like Jesus were not “supposed” to interact with “unclean” “ungodly” Samaritans. Especially ones living in adultery. But Jesus accepted and loved her, saw her humanity, when that was the last thing she expected and that opened up her heart. Good for you for allowing God to speak to your heart and allow to use you as a conduit of love to those people. You may be the most genuine and loving person they encounter and it sounds like you’re perfectly positioned by God to be in a place where they encounter you and you can give them a new experience.

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