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How to deal with a difficult colleague

Helene Lerner is the founder of She is a prolific author, independent public television host, Emmy award-winning executive producer, and workplace consultant. She covers a wide array of issues, such as women and confide...

Angry with a colleague?

"My co-worker fends for herself. I find that, when we are at a meeting, she undercuts what I have said and pulls the conversation back to her. I get so angry. How do I handle this -- any suggestions?"

Angry with a colleague?

How to deal with a difficult coworker

Step 1: Keep the focus on yourself

First of all, if she feels the need to take the attention away from you, she must be insecure and uncomfortable with herself. If you know she feels inadequate, your resentment towards her may dissipate.

Don't get distracted by your anger -- it will take you off point. Just be aware that you are feeling this way, but DO NOT open your mouth. Take a deep breath instead, get up and pour a glass of water. It will give you time to think of the next right action to take.

step 2: Turn the attention back on you

You want to get the attention back on you, so take it back diplomatically with a phrase like, "good point, but as I was saying…." It is all in the way you do it. Don't let anyone sense you are angry.You are simply returning to your valuable suggestion that was interrupted.

step 3: Don't use silly tactics

Using silly tactics like doing the same thing to her. They won't work. Why not try a positive affirmation instead? Here are a few. Mentally repeat one of these to yourself:

                        "My suggestions are important and will make a difference to the team."

                        "I do not allow myself to get distracted."

step 4: Don't carry around your anger throughout the day

And be sure to avoid gossiping about the incident. It will only drain your energy and cause you to work less efficiently. Let it go -- you have a lot of other things to do.

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