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How to Survive Working With a Workaholic

Topics: Career Advice
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Working with a workaholic can often feel like it will either make you, or break you. If a work-crazy coworker is stressing you out, don’t be discouraged.  I’ve been there and feeling pressured to conform to a relentless schedule isn’t much fun.

If you find yourself dealing with a work-obsessed boss or team member, here are some strategies you can adopt to handle it.

Look at the Big Picture

Take a step back and assess if the workaholic behavior reflects your corporate culture or lies squarely with the individual. Understanding the bigger picture and the underlying causes will help guide how best to approach and respond to the situation.

Assess the Immediate Situation

Taking time to do your own analysis of your skill sets, work style and career objectives is important. This will help you decide if adjusting your pace of work temporarily could benefit or hinder your personal goals. Understanding how your coworkers or managers operate, so you can collectively play to your strengths, is always a worthwhile exercise.  Remember, we all bring diverse attributes to a team, and we all have different ways of working. Use the experience to help shape what works best for you.

Don’t Take It Personally

When dealing with a workaholic, it can be easy to forget that they’re often consumed by their own habits and goals. This obsession usually translates to a laser focus on how they deliver their work.  As a result, this person may not be aware of the negative impact their approach has on others. If you are impacted, don’t take it personally, but do protect and nurture what keeps you inspired and motivated.

Maintain Perspective

If incessant working is an integral part of your company’s culture, you will need to decide if you’re happy to work that way in the short or longer term. If the intensity is the direct result of an individual’s personal traits, don’t lose sight of that perspective. This can be hard, especially if you work in a collaborative environment. Do what you need to do to be productive in your role, but remember that working 24/7 doesn’t always equate to success.

Be Responsive Versus Retaliatory

If differences in work style or expectations are causing friction, try to avoid igniting the flames. If it’s a coworker, take time out and put yourself in their shoes, and if you can, ask the other person to try and do the same. If your manager is not happy, take time to listen and take time to reflect on any feedback or direction before reacting. Empathy or taking time out can go a long way to diffuse a situation if you feel conflict is brewing.

Don’t Be Defeated

Roles, coworkers and managers will all change over time and you’ll never have full control of team dynamics. However, your career, and how you choose to work, remain your prerogative. Choose to stay positive and stay on track. Don’t let your feelings or experiences with a coworker or a manager get in the way of achieving results. Work smart, be professional and stay focused on your own goals. If you’re struggling to make it work, take time to figure out the best way to move forward, either in this role or in a new one.

Learn From It

Even the worst workaholic experiences will contain a kernel of wisdom you can learn from. Working with others can bring out the best, and the worst, in all of us. The beauty of it all is learning to embrace the positives and the negatives, and making your own choices about how to work as you continue to grow your career.

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Have you ever worked with a workaholic? We want to hear from you. Tell us your story in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.

Octavia Goredema
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