How to cope with challenging coworkers

Unless you work from home, chances are you have to work with a number of different people with different personalities - and sometimes they just don't mesh.

Dr. Scott Bea, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic, says when we find our coworkers to be distracting or off-putting, it can help to create some physical space. 

"Even creating a space, or even orienting yourself in a way that makes you just a little less accessible, you can manage who gets to you and who doesnt, might be to your advantage," he explains. 

He says that when you're in a spot where people are infecting you with cynicism, criticism, gossip, or perhaps always wanting to be right, it's a smart idea to protect yourself. He suggests trying avoidance measures, or simply letting them know that you don't do well with gossip and that perhaps they should share it with someone else. 

Dr. Bea says taking a holistic approach when hiring new people would be beneficial, like taking into consideration who might work well with the other people in the office. 

He says it's important to take into consideration who might be able to create a culture that promotes productivity, because one "bad apple" in the office is all it takes to drag everyone else down. 

Research has shown that toxic coworkers actually end up costing more than high performers add to the workplace. 

If you find yourself getting pulled into a coworker's negativity or bad habits, Dr. Bea says it's vital to stay true to yourself and your values.  

"Take your mission seriously. Tou don't have to take yourself seriously in it, but form good habits early on, stick with them, stubbornly refuse to kowtow to the avoidance behaviors that others might have showing up late, not going to meetings, finding shortcuts," he says. 

To stay happy and productive at work, Dr. Bea recommends staying away from people who are sowing the seeds of discontent whenever possible, because misery loves company, but the company doesnt love misery.