How to Express Problems with a Co-Worker


The workplace is a maze of challenges--meeting deadlines, staying motivated and trying to maximize the art of multitasking. The last thing you want to deal with is a conflict with a co-worker. Unfortunately, unless you work alone, at some point you may have to settle an issue with a fellow employee. Here are some ways to express yourself to create a better work atmosphere.

Things You'll Need

  • Resolve
  • Courtesy
  • Willingness to compromise
  • Figure out the problem. Your co-worker took papers off of your desk again without asking. Your fellow employee used common equipment without cleaning up after himself. These are instances of a problem, but not really the issue you need to address. Before you confront your colleague, identify the point you need to make. For instance, your objection is that that you would like her to ask before borrowing your things or that you would prefer him to please be courteous to others by cleaning up after he is finished using company items.

  • Remain cool, calm and collected. It's very easy to say exactly what your problem is with a co-worker directly after you become irritated. However, approaching someone when you are frustrated or angry will often only come across as aggressive or confrontational. Instead, put some time and space between yourself and the ordeal to find a way to calm down and reflect first. Play your favorite music. Have lunch with a friend. Cooling off will not only give you time to think but it will make talking to your colleague easier as well.

  • Express yourself clearly. Use the three S's: stand up, say what you have to say and sit down. In this context, the three S's can mean stand up for yourself, say what you have to say, and sit back and listen. Be concise during your conversation with your colleague. State the matter plainly. The more you say, the more likely they will feel that they are being lectured and will become defensive.

  • Listen. Hear what they have to say. Approaching them should not only be about getting what you want but genuinely wishing to end the conflict. You should be willing to hear their grievances too.

  • Agree to work together for a resolution. Now that you have expressed yourself, be sure to know what they may need from you in return. Being respectful of each other will allow a more open working relationship in the future.

Tips & Warnings

  • Approaching another person during a conflict is always difficult. Try not to put off having a discussion. Generally, resentment settles in as you procrastinate. The longer you wait to express your feelings, the harder it may be to open up to your co-worker.

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