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5 Tips for Dealing With Difficult Coworkers

Doug Bender

September 08, 2022 | 2 minute read

You can choose your friends, but not your family…Or your coworkers. Unfortunately, you likely work alongside a few unique, albeit sometimes challenging, personalities. And now you have to figure out how to deal with them. Suppose you are wondering if there are practical tips from the Bible that will help you get through the workday. We’re here to help! Here are our five tips for dealing with difficult coworkers.

The Angry Coworker

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” 

Everyone loses their temper from time to time. Some make anger a regular habit. Others might keep things under control until something big happens. Either way, chances are that you will find yourself on the uncomfortable end of someone’s angry outburst at some point during your professional career. When you do, remember that you have a choice. You can respond to that anger with more anger, or you can reply with calmness and patience. Unfortunately, only one of these has a chance of cooling down the situation. So save your voice from an unuseful shouting match and opt for a gentle tone as your go-to response.

The Insulting Coworker

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”

People say dumb things, and for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they skipped their breakfast this morning. Maybe they have poor self-esteem and think insulting you makes them better by comparison. But whatever the reason, people say hurtful things. When your coworker takes a cheap shot at your self-worth, will you get annoyed or let it go? You can’t control what others say. But you can only control how you react to the words of others. If you snap back insult for insult, you have only lowered yourself to their foolishness. Best let it go and focus on the things you can control. 

The Arguing Coworker

“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”

When you disagree with someone, you can either quarrel or collaborate. A quarrelsome person seeks to win arguments, beat out opponents and cares about getting their way rather than finding the best way forward for all. But you can, instead, choose to avoid the fight and collaboratively work to find solutions and creative outcomes. You can share your opinions and ideas without making it a win-or-lose battle.

Ever wonder how to engage with people on “culture war” type topics? Here’s how to be a peacemaker.

The Uncorrectable Coworker

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you.”

Some people cannot take advice. Your counsel will not always be welcomed regardless of how well-intentioned or kindly spoken. If you find someone who responds to new ideas with old excuses, insults or anger, then you have found the uncorrectable coworker. Do not bother sharing your advice with them. You are wasting your time and inviting insults and strife. It’s best to let their foolishness lead them down the path of natural consequences. 

The Foolish Coworker

“Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.” 

Some people cannot stop making bad decisions. You can scold them, correct them or help them, but it may not matter. They are determined to arrive late to the next meeting, fail to complete the next project or continue to upset their supervisors. Beware! It is better to carpool with an angry bear than a determined fool. You need to be wise with the people you invest your time and energy. You cannot always avoid a coworker altogether. However, you can still seek ways to reduce your exposure to their bad decisions. Do not let a troublesome coworker derail your career in addition to your own.

Not everyone will be easy to work with or for. Some will be easier, while others will be more difficult. But whatever your coworkers are like, you are still in control of how you react and what you do. Be kind. Be wise. And remember that you cannot control how others behave, but you are in control of how you react.

Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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