Dealing with Difficult Co-Workers

Sections of this topic

    Often our most challenging times at work are dealing with people who push our hot buttons in some way. Perhaps we experience them as being uncooperative, unsupportive, intimidating, or outright vindictive. While I can understand you would want to run from these people as fast as you can, I encourage you to stop in your tracks and consider the situation from a spiritual perspective.

    Accept the Challenge as your Calling

    You are brought to this situation to be a spiritual presence. When you model peace and harmony for others, you shift the energy where you work.

    Often the lessons we most need to learn are brought to us from people who challenge us the most. In order to develop patience, we need to be in situations where patience is required. In order to practice compassion, we need to experience situations where compassion is required. In order to learn where our growing edges are, we need to be pushed to the edge. When you get annoyed with someone, take time to see what the situation is calling of you.

    I’ve written before that our work environment is where our spiritual unfolding takes place every bit as much as with our families, our faith communities, and with friends. You can be spiritual and bring peace everywhere you go- if you set your intention on that. Others are presented to you so that you can choose how to be more spiritual. You are always provided opportunities to practice greater love, patience, graciousness, acceptance, forgiveness, peace. That’s the real work we are here to do!

    Co-workers as Spiritual Partners

    Guess what? Your biggest lessons keep coming back to you so you can practice. Maybe you practice with one person for a very long time, such as your partner or family member. Maybe you get reminders periodically so that you practice for only a short time. You may have to dig deeper to find a way through it. You may have to reach out to others or use prayer to find greater support with your challenge.

    While these times and people may not feel particularly pleasant, they are in fact brought to you for your spiritual progression. Rather than get angry, stomp away upset, or otherwise feel uncomfortable- stop. Breathe. Relax. Pray. Reflect.

    • What is this person here to teach you in this moment?
    • What are you required to practice with this person?
    • How are you creating peace this instant?

    You have drawn these people and these situations to you so that you can work on those aspects of yourself that need polishing. Take the opportunity to see what needs to shift within you rather than focus on changing or judging them. As we read in Matthew 7:3 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” These people trigger your own hot buttons (eg., defensiveness, impatience, arrogance, self-doubt, not taking responsibility for your actions). Thank them for bringing into awareness your areas of growth.

    Find ways to choose love, acceptance, compassion, peace, awareness. Not only will you develop more spiritually, but your work place will become more peaceful as you remain a spiritual presence.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.