We have all had difficult colleagues. You know, those peers that cause you to roll your eyes and complain when they are not around. Difficult colleagues make work harder and create even more headaches for the person who has to manage her/him.

The catch, of course, is that none of us truly see ourselves objectively. As a result, we might be the difficult ones and our peers might see us as a pain in the neck. This is why a performance review is so important so that you can get unfiltered feedback from those that do see you as you really are.

In the meantime, I suggest 7 ways that you can be a better colleague:

  1. Be brief in your emails. Remember to use one topic for each email. Also, keep your email subjects brief and to the point.

  2. Be on time. Whether it’s a meeting, an event or simply the place you said you would be at a certain time, be there. This reminds people that you’re a person of your word.

  3. Communicate clearly. If you’re responsible for something, own it. This especially applies to when you make a mistake- just own it and move on. Nothing is worse than when a colleague refuses to take responsibility for their work.

  4. Avoid complaining about your boss. While it may be “fun” to do this (for the brief laughter from your peers), it’s destructive to work culture and reminds peers that respect is fluid.

  5. Honor the work of your peers. Be liberal with your compliments and sparse with your criticism. Tell people good things. Be kind and acknowledge the talents of others because there are many.

  6. Be tidy. Your desk should convey that you are a professional and that you are a steward of the resources of your company. If there’s one thing I’ve heard people complain about at work, it’s the messy workspaces of their peers.

  7. Over-deliver. Few people complain about someone who delivers extraordinary results. Get things done on time and on budget. Be gracious, humble and generous with your peers and you’ll rarely be seen as difficult.

These seven strategies will make you less difficult to work with. As a result, your productivity will soar and your workplace will thrive.

Mike St. Pierre
The Executive Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. An avid Nozbe user. Michael writes about productivity at his blog,