How to be more assertive with a difficult work colleague


How to be more assertive with a difficult work colleague

1 – Change your language

If you describe your colleague as a difficult person, you create the conditions for a poor communication.

These words will influence your thinking and may even create a belief about your colleague. If this belief has already developed, I invite you to read the article on how to overcome limiting beliefs.

Alternatively, you can watch the following video in which I give 5 effective tips to overcome limiting beliefs:

If not, then you can begin to identify the words and phrases you use on a daily basis to describe your colleague.

Then write them down and replace them with more positive words.

Now start using these new words and notice how your perception of your colleagues will change and how you will behave differently with them.

Now that you understand the importance of changing your language to be assertive with your colleagues, the next tip is to learn to listen to their point of view.

2 – Listen without interpreting

Some conflicts at work but also in private life stem from a lack of listening and a tendency to quickly give meaning to what we think we have understood of the message delivered by our interlocutor.

This is why my first piece of advice is to do your best to stop any form of judgment and focus your attention on understanding what your colleague or manager is trying to convey to you.

This requires learning to practice active listening or empathic listening on a daily basis. If you want to improve your ability to listen more effectively, I advise you to discover our active listening training.

Experience from tomorrow to focus on his point of view, to summarize her or his ideas with the sole objective of understanding her or his vision of the situation.

Simply making a conscious effort to try to put yourself in her or his shoes will at least allow you to reduce possible tensions and cooperate with her or him in a more productive and enjoyable way.

If you wish to go further and learn how to communicate better with your professional entourage, you can benefit from the tailor-made support of a communication coach.

Now that you have understood the importance of listening without interpreting or judging, the next piece of advice is to identify the real source of the problem.

3 – Identify the real source of the problem

By practicing active listening as I suggested in the previous tip, you will probably find that your colleague is not angry with you.

Most of the time the reasons for his behavior are related to different situations such as other professional difficulties or even problems in her or his personal life.

In these cases, spend your work breaks trying to better understand her or his situation and you will see that a colleague who seemed difficult to you was just a person in trouble who needed to be understood and listened to.

Once again, the time you use to try to better understand her or his professional or personal story will improve the quality of the relationship.

As a result, you should see strong improvements in your daily interactions with this person.

But what can you do if you are the source of the problem?

Find out right away by continuing to read this article.

4 – Manage your emotions effectively

Now that you understand that your behavior is at the root of the difficulties you are experiencing with your teammate, you need to start listening again without interpreting as you did in Tip 2.

But this time, your task will be much more complex because you will have to manage your emotions.

When your colleague’s tone rises and you feel a variety of emotions, focus on your emotions.

Realize that they are there to give you something you need to better understand the situation and take appropriate action.

Don’t deny them, don’t pretend they don’t exist and start using your emotions to start being more assertive.

As you try to do your best to understand the other person’s point of view, assert yourself using your emotions.

Specifically, talk about how you feel about what you’ve just heard. Don’t talk about your co-worker, but just point out your internal state.

Do this without pretending to be right and without criticizing the other person.

Doing so will allow you to better manage your emotions and may inspire your colleague to open up more.

Now that you have learned the importance of effectively managing your emotions, you are ready to be more assertive with your colleague.

5 – Set your rules of the game

If you realize you made a mistake, apologize. But if you don’t, don’t do it just to be polite and kind to your colleague.

Now that your colleague has told you her or his truth, it’s your turn to define what’s important to you.

It’s time to define:

  • what is fair or acceptable to you
  • what you are not prepared to tolerate
  • what you are willing to negotiate
  • your needs and goals

Your goal is to put your point of view forward in a clear and calm manner so that your teammate understands what is important to you.

To ensure that the message is understood, you can invite your colleague to briefly summarize what you have said.

If you wish to go further on the topic of how to be more assertive in your life, I suggest you read the article on how to be more assertive and be respected at work and in your private life.

Alternatively, I suggest you watch the following video in which I give 5 tips on how to assert yourself and be respected.


In this article, I have presented 5 tips on how to be more assertive with a difficult colleague. If you wish to benefit from the expertise of a life coach, write to us now through our contact form or discover now our coaching prices for individuals.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”2″ style=”lazy” items_per_page=”2″ element_width=”6″ gap=”1″ initial_loading_animation=”none” grid_id=”vc_gid:1601816310747-43d50118-e27d-6″ taxonomies=”167, 165″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Leave a Comment