In the service industry your coworkers are everything. They are your friends and family; the people you spend the most time with every week. They are your outlet for stress and your shoulder to lean on.
Most of my ride-or-die friends are people I met while serving or bartending. They are a diverse group of wonderful individuals who have made my life worth living. However, not every coworker has been so great.
Sometimes you come across that one person who can completely change the environment in a room and just make everybody miserable. Maybe they’re always grumpy and complaining or just downright rude and obnoxious. Here are some tips for how to deal with that one employee that every restaurant seems to have.
Don’t Indulge Them
A little server-to-server venting is always great. However, as soon as you walk in for your shift you don’t want to be met with a barrage of complaints and gossip.
One very effective way I’ve found to deal with someone like this is to simply walk away. Make a polite response and a quick exit. Over time, hopefully they’ll get the hint that you’re not the person to go to with every little gripe.
If They’re Rude to You, Call Them On It (Politely)
A little snap here and there isn’t necessarily cause for concern. But, if someone is overly mean or bullies you time and time again, you don’t have to stand for it.
Try to tell them you’re unhappy by using “we” phrases that diffuse the blame so they don’t feel attacked. Go for something like, “Hey, I know that sometimes we get really stressed and are mean to each other but let’s try not to do that so much.” Or, “I really love being your friend, but it bothered me when you said XYZ.”
Most people avoid conflict at all costs, so a lot of times bullies will back right down if they see you’re willing to have a discussion.
It can be tempting to enlist your other coworkers in the battle against The Awful One, but you should resist. If coworker A feels like everyone’s talking behind their back and deliberately excluding them from things, it’s not great incentive to change is it?
Try and stay professional and resist throwing shade. “Kill them with kindness” sounds cliché, but by rising above the situation, you can encourage them to do the same.
Practice a Little Bit of Introspection
While we’re not saying this is your fault, a little self-examination never hurt anyone. Is there something you could be doing that triggers your menacing coworker? Why not ask them? Try, “Hey it seems like it really bothers you when I don’t restock the fruits. I’ll try and be better about that.”
Also, sometimes that horrible coworker may be dealing with a problem that you know nothing about, making them extra sensitive. While you don’t have to listen to them complain about inane things, sometimes the issue might go a bit deeper than you think.
Go to Your Boss
While not all situations necessarily merit manager interference, some do. If someone is constantly harassing you or hasn’t responded to any attempts at informal conflict resolution, it may be time to go get the boss.
Having difficult coworkers is the reality of any job, but if you feel a line has been crossed, tell someone. This is always a better option than gossiping about the individual.
Remember, you deserve a safe and harassment free work environment! Always ask for help if you need it.
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