Difficult co-worker



  • I work with someone that is extremely good at figuring anything out. He has an extremely vast knowledge. He was involved in startup of a major tech company. (one of the top 5 for awhile)

    However he is difficult and extremely particular about how he does stuff. Nobody can quite tell him exactly how to how to do something. He will fight based on ideal situations ( kind of similar to SAM) and resists heavily doing things he doesnt like even if it's something benign or neutral. Such as making a minor change that has no effect whatsoever, but follows standards like ISO 2700.

    He's valuable to a a point that he gets to do things his way sometimes even if it's against manager.

    Any advice for how to better work with him? He is cooperative most of the time, but sometimes it's hard to get a single point across.



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    Such as making a minor change that has no effect whatsoever,

    This can't possibly exist as described. A change means it's effecting something. 😉



  • With dealing with a difficult coworker though, one of the best things you can do is simply speak with your manager. They are the person in charge, and if they allow the conflict to occur and continue than they are culpable for allowing a hostile workplace to exist.

    Not knowing where you live and work, but it' something that might get HR to correct the action.

    You nor anyone else has to deal with people being dicks in the workplace because of whatever chip said person has on their shoulder.



  • @RandyBlevins Is the difficulty only the fact that he argues or is there more at play here?



  • Are you the boss? If not, is he difficult for your to work with? if yes - how? I'm guessing you can't/don't give him orders/directions - his boss does.. so what do you care if he pushes back on his/your boss?



  • @wirestyle22 said in Difficult co-worker:

    @RandyBlevins Is the difficulty only the fact that he argues or is there more at play here?

    The main issue is that sometimes it's going 150% full throttle and other times it's not solving issues it's about going down rabbit trails



  • @Dashrender said in Difficult co-worker:

    Are you the boss? If not, is he difficult for your to work with? if yes - how? I'm guessing you can't/don't give him orders/directions - his boss does.. so what do you care if he pushes back on his/your boss?

    Nope. Not the boss, but I work with him commonly. There are certain things that I do call, and sometimes it's yes let's do it and the other times I have to escalate and then it turns into a long drawn out thing



  • Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.



  • I am not asking about going to management. I'm asking about how I can personally deal in a more constructive way
    If anyone has any experience in dealing with this.

    Alot of times they reaction is dependent on the delivery more than content. Everyone is careful how they say things and try to give real specific instructions



  • @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    Thats possible. It doesn't seem like a control issue to me



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    I am not asking about going to management. I'm asking about how I can personally deal in a more constructive way
    If anyone has any experience in dealing with this.

    Alot of times they reaction is dependent on the delivery more than content. Everyone is careful how they say things and try to give real specific instructions

    I have a coworker like this myself now, and to tell you the truth the only way to get the issue resolved was to have my boss step in and force a reset. My coworker thought I was here to back stab them, make them look bad etc. They were and or are disgruntled with things in their work life and I have no control to fix it.

    So literally anything I was asked to do that they weren't informed of would cause friction - it's not my place to inform a coworker if a manager exists (and they do). Just do your job, if things get really bad, take it up with your manager (again).

    Some times you just need to consider that maybe your coworker is just pissed off in general about where they are in their life/career and have someone else force a cease fire as it were.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Difficult co-worker:

    @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    I am not asking about going to management. I'm asking about how I can personally deal in a more constructive way
    If anyone has any experience in dealing with this.

    Alot of times they reaction is dependent on the delivery more than content. Everyone is careful how they say things and try to give real specific instructions

    I have a coworker like this myself now, and to tell you the truth the only way to get the issue resolved was to have my boss step in and force a reset. My coworker thought I was here to back stab them, make them look bad etc. They were and or are disgruntled with things in their work life and I have no control to fix it.

    So literally anything I was asked to do that they weren't informed of would cause friction - it's not my place to inform a coworker if a manager exists (and they do). Just do your job, if things get really bad, take it up with your manager (again).

    Some times you just need to consider that maybe your coworker is just pissed off in general about where they are in their life/career and have someone else force a cease fire as it were.

    I don't necessarily share your opinion. As I mentioned that alot of it is how it's done on delivery. I want to better understand how I can do a proper delivery.

    In my experience, you deal with certain types of people differently. I don't believe in running to manager or HR when I can solve issue by better understanding a personally. I don't take anything personal because it's not just an issue I have.



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    I want to better understand how I can do a proper delivery.

    Delivery is only going to matter if you are attempting to change someone's mind or perspective.

    If that person just doesn't like you but is friendly, you changing how you speak with them isn't going to fix whatever they dislike about you.



  • @RandyBlevins

    Emotional intelligence theory says fire him.



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    He will fight based on ideal situations ( kind of similar to SAM) and resists heavily doing things he doesnt like even if it's something benign or neutral.

    So this needs some expansion, I think. If you talk to my team, I think you'd get a similar description of me (right down to "difficult coworker", haha) but....

    1. In my situation, I'm the final veto power. If I say "no", it's "no". But I rarely exercise that, for real.
    2. Where does he fit in the decision chain? Is he an "approver", a "stakeholder", an "adviser", a "peer", or other?
    3. Does he have the power to hold things up, or does that just happen?
    4. Does he argue once something has been shown to be valuable, or is he arguing because the value can't be demonstrated?
    5. Nearly all of my "arguing", whether here or with my team, is not to push for a specific answer... but to ensure that the decisions being made are justified and that someone can show me (e.g. themselves) why they are doing them.


  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    I'm asking about how I can personally deal in a more constructive way
    If anyone has any experience in dealing with this.

    Probably some good answers here, but they would require really understanding said coworker. Some people are passionate about "being right" and don't like someone going a different direction. But that's not necessarily the case from what you describe. It's an option. His broad experience could easily indicate that he's got loads of experience and insight and is trying to push you to improve; but it could also just result in hubris and problems accepting guidance or ideas from other people. So we can't read into it, yet.



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    Alot of times they reaction is dependent on the delivery more than content. Everyone is careful how they say things and try to give real specific instructions

    Honesty, more and more this sounds like me. If he's like me, then I can give you decently constructive ideas.

    Delivery (i.e. "how we arrived at this conclusion") is more important to me than the conclusion itself. A good answer can be arrived at randomly. A broken watch is right twice a day (in the 1900s when watches had physical hands.) But a good decision making process makes for repeatably good decisions that happen reliably over and over again. So I almost always focus on the process to get a good answer, the good answer will come naturally. He might as well.

    Specific instructions: Unrelated (I assume) to anything else about me, I don't handle ambiguity well. I lack the normal "assumptions" that most people make. For example, if I asked you what's for dinner, that means I'm curious and in no way implies that I am hungry, in fact I'm most likely to be curious when I'm not hungry so I can judge how much to starve myself before we have the food to get ready. But my wife always adds the assumption that I'm hungry, even knowing that I would never ask what is for dinner but rather tell her that I'm hungry, if that's what I wanted to convey. Ambiguous tasks leave me confused and lost, but give me specifics and I'm pretty effective.



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    I don't believe in running to manager or HR when I can solve issue by better understanding a personally.

    Although, in theory, those are two roles who are specifically meant to help with you understanding how to manage things like this. It sucks when management and HR are seen only as places to go to complain, rather than advisers and helpers for a healthy environment.

    Good HR should be able to sit down with you, look at personality profiles, learn from others, and assist you in figuring out how to interact with someone more effectively.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Difficult co-worker:

    @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    Alot of times they reaction is dependent on the delivery more than content. Everyone is careful how they say things and try to give real specific instructions

    Honesty, more and more this sounds like me. If he's like me, then I can give you decently constructive ideas.

    Delivery (i.e. "how we arrived at this conclusion") is more important to me than the conclusion itself. A good answer can be arrived at randomly. A broken watch is right twice a day (in the 1900s when watches had physical hands.) But a good decision making process makes for repeatably good decisions that happen reliably over and over again. So I almost always focus on the process to get a good answer, the good answer will come naturally. He might as well.

    Specific instructions: Unrelated (I assume) to anything else about me, I don't handle ambiguity well. I lack the normal "assumptions" that most people make. For example, if I asked you what's for dinner, that means I'm curious and in no way implies that I am hungry, in fact I'm most likely to be curious when I'm not hungry so I can judge how much to starve myself before we have the food to get ready. But my wife always adds the assumption that I'm hungry, even knowing that I would never ask what is for dinner but rather tell her that I'm hungry, if that's what I wanted to convey. Ambiguous tasks leave me confused and lost, but give me specifics and I'm pretty effective.

    great example!



  • @RandyBlevins said in Difficult co-worker:

    I work with someone that is extremely good at figuring anything out. He has an extremely vast knowledge. He was involved in startup of a major tech company. (one of the top 5 for awhile)

    However he is difficult and extremely particular about how he does stuff. Nobody can quite tell him exactly how to how to do something. He will fight based on ideal situations ( kind of similar to SAM) and resists heavily doing things he doesnt like even if it's something benign or neutral. Such as making a minor change that has no effect whatsoever, but follows standards like ISO 2700.

    He's valuable to a a point that he gets to do things his way sometimes even if it's against manager.

    Any advice for how to better work with him? He is cooperative most of the time, but sometimes it's hard to get a single point across.

    Do you have children?

    If you do, you can probably apply some lessons-learned from raising children to this situation as well.



  • @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.



  • @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.

    Or he will have no memory of where he got information from, so he will explain something to you that was actually something you told him



  • @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.

    Or he will have no memory of where he got information from, so he will explain something to you that was actually something you told him

    Now you have me wondering how many times I've done that to people. More than I want to know most likely.



  • @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.

    Or he will have no memory of where he got information from, so he will explain something to you that was actually something you told him

    I didn't realize we worked together. Chalk that up to my bad memory



  • @wirestyle22 said in Difficult co-worker:

    @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.

    Or he will have no memory of where he got information from, so he will explain something to you that was actually something you told him

    I didn't realize we worked together. Chalk that up to my bad memory

    Or mini-strokes. . . (not joking at all)



  • @DustinB3403 said in Difficult co-worker:

    @wirestyle22 said in Difficult co-worker:

    @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.

    Or he will have no memory of where he got information from, so he will explain something to you that was actually something you told him

    I didn't realize we worked together. Chalk that up to my bad memory

    Or mini-strokes. . . (not joking at all)

    That would explain a lot actually



  • Well who ever downvoted mini-strokes causing memory loss can kiss my ass. I hope my grandmother survives her stroke (and minis) from this saturday.

    Dicks.



  • @flaxking said in Difficult co-worker:

    @Kelly said in Difficult co-worker:

    Without more experience or information it is difficult to draw an exact conclusion, but have you considered that he is on the autism spectrum? Some of the things that you're listing could be indicators of that. There are significant differences to how you will work with someone on the spectrum vs someone who just has control issues.

    This sounds a lot like my co-worker, who I am pretty sure is on the spectrum. He is amazing technically, reading comprehension of technical documentation that is out of this world. But he can't think in terms of business needs and what is practical. He will also assume he knows what you're saying without listen so you really have to watch for cues that the didn't actually understand what you said. Also can be a lot of work to convince him he is wrong, you need to have definitive proof ready.

    Yes this sounds quite similar to what I have seen. Although, I will add that he always 100% believes he is doing the right thing. Its not because he wants to cut corners or anything. Sometimes we cannot get him to cut corners where they need to be cut.


Log in to reply