Blog Top Image-4

3 Ways You May Be Hard to Work With and What to do About It

Anxiety, stress, fatigue, pressure, or any number of similar things can trigger completely natural reactions that might be taken negatively or affect us negatively. In a recent episode of the Even Better Podcast, YCNS founder Sinikka Waugh and I delved into these issues, explaining the three ways that we can be hard to work with and the ways that we can work to alleviate them for a smoother, more collaborative work experience, both when they manifest within ourselves and when we pick them up from those around us.

1. We Get Quiet

In the fast-paced environment of the workplace, it's not uncommon for individuals to withdraw and become quieter under stress, pressure, or fatigue. This can take the form of bottling negative emotions, developing a sense of mistrust, becoming overly cautious, or reserved. In all cases, communication often grinds to a halt. Recognizing this behavior is crucial, both for those experiencing it and their colleagues. If we find ourselves getting quieter, we can take a moment to reflect on the source of our emotions. Are we feeling hurt, alarmed, or anxious? Identifying the root cause can pave the way for effective solutions.

If we notice this in ourselves, we can: 

  • Try self-reflection: Analyze the emotions we are feeling and pinpoint the source of stress or discomfort that is causing us to be quiet. 
  • Speak up with the right tone: If we share what’s bothering us with the right people and in the right way, we open dialogue with others and improve our chances to resolve our concerns. 
  • Seek support: When we get quiet, we often suffer alone. Instead, talk to trusted colleagues, mentors, or friends who can provide provide counsel. Sometimes, others can help us see new possibilities.
If we notice this behavior happening in one of our peers, we can: 
  • Create a safe space: Approach the person with empathy and curiosity. Express concern and offer a listening ear to encourage open communication. 
  • Encourage dialogue: Ask open-ended questions to prompt the person to share their thoughts and feelings. Be patient and non-judgmental. If giving feedback, try to consider their preferred methods of communication. 

Remember, the key is to foster an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves. 


2. We Get Loud

On the flip side, some individuals get louder under stress, adopting behaviors that others perceive as overbearing or dominating. This can manifest in numerous ways, such as being overly bold, mischievous, colorful and showy, or imaginative. Being verbally assertive can be quite helpful at times, but there is a point where what we think of as assertiveness is seen by others as verbal aggressiveness, and they find us hard to work with.

If we tend to be overly assertive communicators, we can: 

  • Read the room: Assess whether we may be outtalking others or brushing aside what others are saying. If others aren’t speaking up, it may be because they have learned we don’t or won’t listen, not because they don’t have something to say. 
  • Adjust communication: Recognize when to amplify our voice and when to listen more to what others have to say. Tailor our communication style based on the context and the needs of those around us. 

If we notice this behavior happening in one of our peers, we can: 

  • Provide a safe space: Approach the person with curiosity and express our observations about how they communicate and how it strikes others. Encourage them to share their thoughts and concerns. 
  • Encourage self-reflection: Ask the individual to reflect on their communication style. Ask questions that help them assess whether their approach is aligned with the situation. 


3. We Check in Too Much

Constantly checking in on tasks and projects can be counterproductive, both for the person exhibiting this behavior and their colleagues. If we check in too much on people we lead, we become irritating micromanagers. If we check in too much with our managers, they may think we lack confidence in ourselves, and our peers or direct reports may think we lack the backbone to disagree. It can give the impression that trust is low, which can drive a wedge into a professional relationships. Whether driven by high standards or a sense of duty, the key is to find a balance between diligence and autonomy. Regular status updates can be good, but they don’t need to be five minutes apart.

If this behavior starts to crop up in ourselves, we can: 

  • Delegate effectively: Clearly communicate expectations and requirements when delegating tasks. Provide a framework for success, including must-haves and nice-to-haves. 
  • Seek clarity: Ask for clear definitions of success and guidelines on when and how often to check in. Understanding expectations can help us strike a balance. 
  • Respectfully disagree with your leader. No one is always right or knows everything, and we may have perspectives our leader needs to hear. Also, if we lead others, others may need us to stand up for them and fight for them. 

If we notice this behavior happening in one of our peers, we can: 

  • Establish expectations: Clearly communicate expectations and guidelines for reporting progress. This empowers individuals to take ownership of their work while maintaining open lines of communication. 
  • Encourage autonomy: Remind individuals of their capabilities, encourage them to trust their judgment, and make it safe for people to respectfully disagree. Empower them to make decisions independently within established parameters. 


Effective collaboration requires a keen awareness of one's own behavior and a genuine effort to understand and adapt to the dynamics of the workplace. By addressing issues of getting quieter, getting louder, and checking in too much, individuals and teams can create a more collaborative and supportive environment, one in which we all work together for the good of the organization (which just so happens to be one of the core tenets of Your Clear Next Step’s Changemakers Certification Program). You can check out our resource page for more information! 

Building a collaborative workplace culture is an ongoing process that involves self-reflection, open communication, and a commitment to continuous improvement. As we navigate the complexities of professional interactions, let's strive to foster understanding, empathy, and a shared commitment to success. Together, we can create workplaces where everyone can thrive, and make every day even better than the last! 

Topics: Business Skills & Business Acumen, Communication & Collaboration

Dick Hannasch

About the Author

Dick Hannasch

Dick Hannasch is an ICF Associate and Board-Certified Coach. He is open and non-judgmental but doesn’t let you off the hook. With over 35 years of experience growing talent, Dick has coached people from all continents except Antarctica, in the fields of financial services, IT, health care, agribusiness, entertainment, government, manufacturing, and more. His goal is always to make you a better you, and in Changemakers, that means helping you to master the three core skills: building authentic human connection, putting the good of the organization first, and treating change as a process, not an event. He believes that you have what you need within you to be better, all you need is that guiding hand.

Receive a weekly dose of inspiration in your inbox by signing up for our weekly newsletter