Anyone who has ever held a job knows that it’s important to get along with your coworkers in order to create a professional and cooperative work environment. We may not be as fond of some folks as we are of others, but generally most of us strive to keep interactions civil and polite at the very least.
If one of your coworkers has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you may find them particularly difficult to work with. Chances are they have volatile emotions, and can be triggered and become angry or despondent with seemingly little provocation.
People who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder generally have difficulty in many of their interpersonal relationships, be they of a familial, personal, or professional nature. They have a tendency to create drama around them, and for this reason can be especially hard to get along with in the workplace.
Borderline Personality Disorder causes people to frequently misinterpret other people’s words and intentions, which in turn can cause them enough emotional distress and fear of rejection that they lash out angrily at others. At work, this can be an additional stressor or complicating factor affecting the entire atmosphere and functionality of the team.
Signs Your Coworker Has BPD
If someone you work with displays the following behaviors, it could indicate that they have Borderline Personality Disorder:
- Intense angry outbursts
- Impulsive behaviors in one or more of the following areas: sex, gambling, eating, substance abuse, or reckless driving
- Mood swingsthoughts,
- Suicidal thoughts, threats, or gestures
At times, people with BPD may gossip at work or pit coworkers against one another. It may be beneficial to document their actions in the event that they result in further conflict or a trip to the boss’ office.
Coping With Your BPD Coworker
Obviously you cannot control another person’s behavior, especially if that person suffers with Borderline Personality Disorder and is not seeking BPD treatment. All you can do is try to understand where the behavior may stem from and then try to adjust your actions and expectations accordingly.
To better cope with your coworker with BPD, keep the following in mind:
- Stay calm and civil at all times and do not let your own reactions cross any boundaries.
- Keep your demeanor and behavior consistent around your BPD coworker.
- Don’t take it personally. The irrational behavior that people with BPD can demonstrate can be cruel at times. Remember that it’s not about you.
It is important to note that many people with Borderline Personality Disorder thrive at work and actually find it easier to manage their symptoms at work than they do in other areas of their lives. The structure and clearly defined expectations of a work environment can be exactly what someone with BPD needs to stay focused. Keep this in mind when you communicate with them, and be as clear and precise in your language as possible.