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  • Writer's pictureMike Cotayo

Surviving the Office Jungle: A Light-Hearted Guide to Working with Difficult People


In any workplace, you're bound to encounter a colorful cast of characters that could give even the most popular sitcom a run for its money. While some colleagues may be easygoing and delightful, others can be downright difficult. But fear not, intrepid office warrior! With a bit of humor and the right strategies, you can successfully navigate the treacherous waters of working with difficult people. So, buckle up and grab your favorite office snack as we explore the art of taming the wild beasts of the corporate jungle.

  1. Identify the Species: The first step in conquering the office savanna is to identify the type of difficult person you're dealing with. Are they a Chronic Complainer, a Know-it-All, or perhaps a Drama Llama? By recognizing their distinct traits, you can develop the best approach for handling each one.

  2. Master the Art of Selective Listening: Channel your inner zen master and learn to filter out the noise. When faced with a Persistent Pessimist, try to focus on the constructive parts of their feedback, and let the rest slide off like water on a duck's back. Remember, sometimes you can find pearls of wisdom even in a sea of negativity.

  3. The Power of Humor: When dealing with difficult colleagues, a little humor can go a long way. A well-timed joke or light-hearted comment can defuse tension and remind everyone that, at the end of the day, we're all human. Just be sure to keep it appropriate and avoid humor that could be offensive or divisive.

  4. Play the "Yes, and…" Game: When faced with a stubborn Steamroller who's determined to have their way, try the "Yes, and…" technique borrowed from the world of improv comedy. Instead of shutting down their ideas, acknowledge their points and add your own perspective to the mix. This approach can encourage collaboration and open up a more constructive dialogue, turning your Steamroller into a valuable team player.

  5. Be the Office Diplomat: In situations where you encounter the Drama Llama, strive to be a peacemaker. Listen to their concerns, empathize with their feelings, and then gently steer the conversation back to a more productive and less sensationalized topic. Channel your inner diplomat to keep the workplace atmosphere positive and drama-free.

  6. Don't Feed the Trolls: Some difficult colleagues thrive on conflict and disruption, like the notorious Office Troll. The best way to handle these mischief-makers is by depriving them of the reactions they crave. Keep your cool, maintain your professionalism, and refuse to be drawn into their games. They may eventually tire of trying to provoke you and move on to greener pastures.

  7. Practice Self-Care: Finally, remember that working with difficult people can take a toll on your own well-being. It's essential to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Find healthy ways to decompress and manage stress, whether it's hitting the gym, enjoying a hobby, or venting to a trusted friend (preferably not in the office).


Working with difficult people can sometimes feel like navigating a minefield, but with a bit of humor and the right strategies, you can survive and thrive in the office jungle. By identifying the type of difficult person you're dealing with, employing selective listening, using humor, fostering collaboration, being diplomatic, not feeding the trolls, and practicing self-care, you can turn challenging situations into opportunities for growth and success. Now, go forth and conquer the wilds of the corporate world with a smile on your face and a witty one-liner up your sleeve!

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