Dealing with a difficult co-worker

Lesson plan overview

This business English worksheet for upper-intermediate and advanced students explores a topic the majority of people can relate to: dealing with annoying co-workers. Students learn vocabulary to talk about workplace conflict and types of difficult co-workers, practise their listening comprehension and have plenty of opportunities to share their experiences about workplace conflict and how to deal with it. You can combine it with the worksheet “Workplace ethics“, and “Communication styles: Assertive vs aggressive“.
Vocabulary: After an initial conversation on the topic of workplace conflict, students learn a few expressions that would later appear in the video (e.g. rub you the wrong way, get along with, throw you under the bus, take credit for someone’s work) by looking at different sentences and choosing the correct meaning. After that, they complete a few questions with their newly-learned vocabulary and use the questions as conversation starters.
Listening: Students then look at the 5 types of difficult co-workers that are mentioned in the video they are going to watch and discuss what kinds of behaviours are characteristic for each of them. After that students watch a video “how to deal with a difficult co-worker”  and fill a table with different information. In a post-listening discussion, students share their experiences with the types of colleagues described in the video and other types that they find annoying.
Grammar: This worksheet also contains a grammar part, working on phrases used to describe different degrees of certainty (e.g. it is bound to happen, there is no way it will happen, it is highly likely/unlikely). There are 2 speaking activities for students to practise these expressions. First they talk about the statements provided as examples and then they make predictions about different aspects of their lives and the world.
Homework: 3 research topics are suggested which aim to develop the topic further. The topics, combined with the additional resources provided on provide plenty of extra opportunities for contact with topic-related vocabulary in order to reinforce and enrich it.

Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.

Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

  1. annoyed   2.quiet   3.rapport   4.approach   5.strengths

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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