How to Understand and Tame Unruly Employees and Coworkers

If humans weren’t so uniquely different, the world would probably be really peaceful — and very BORING!

So crazy that personality, that which makes us all so fun and exceptionally creative, is also the thing which causes us all so much distress. Romances start and end on personality; friends become enemies because of personality; wars come out of nowhere because of personality.

Wars in the workplace not only kill innovation and problem solving among everyone involved, they also make coming to work much more unpleasant than it needs to be — regardless of how much you and your employees love or hate their job.

Occasional misunderstandings are healthy and generally lead to a better end result, whether that be the quality of a certain project or bringing coworkers and their manager closer together. However, there are those unruly types that seem to thrive off the misery of others. They disagree with everything, argue just for the sake of arguing, and are never shy about voicing their opinions in one way or another.

Taming bad coworkers

To deal with them, you must first understand where their values and everyone else’s are clashing…

Make no mistake about it, there’s a definite reason for the clashing. Even the most unruly have their reasons. They might feel out of place, like they’re not appreciated or valued. They may simply have lifelong issues that have been brought to the job with them. The biggest thing to understand is their values; what they expect of others and what they feel others should expect of them. Only then will the light at the end of the tunnel start to appear.

Once you start to put the values situation together, the bigger picture of where the problems are will start to become clearer. Often, it’s the unruly who’re actually right. They see the holes in how the company’s running including communication, product development, sales, customer service, etc. They see the problem, have tried to educate everyone the nice way, and to no avail. Now, they’ve become unbearable because the mistakes you and others are making are just too much for them to deal with.

Other times, these folks have poor values that just don’t align with the majority of the rest of us. They’re the problem rather than the solution. It’s up to you to find out.

Realize saying “water under the bridge” and similar won’t get you anywhere…

The occasional disagreement can often be forgotten about by both parties. This is the exception rather than the rule. Confrontation is inevitable when two or more people clash in a disagreement. Most of us have learned through the course of our professional and personal lives how to smooth things over with each other without further rocking the boat.

Unruly types, whether purposefully or by accident, tend to heat things up rather than cool things down. And if you and everyone else always take the high road, you’ll either add strength to someone who’s driven by conflict, or flat out anger them further by virtue of ignoring the problem at hand.

Conflict must take place. Knowing how to go about it can take a lot of trial and error.

If all else fails, it’s time to make some serious changes…

Here’s a great quote from the edgy New York based singer Claire London that gets this message across:

I have learned that sometimes “sorry” is not enough. Sometimes you actually have to change.

Put quite simply, when your workplace becomes a war zone because of one or two unruly types that always find a way to create friction among everyone: Either they change or everyone else has to change to accommodate their eccentricities and sensitivities. Sorry just loses its cache after a few unresolved conflicts.

Plain and simple. If you know they’re the problem, it’s time to start taking steps to restore serenity to the workplace by getting rid of the bad seeds around the workplace.


Main Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr