Smart and simple tips to help you work with someone that you really (really) dislike

In the workplace you find yourself having to work with many different people and occasionally that involves working with someone who you really (really) dislike. Co-workers can sometimes test your limits and patience at work; sometimes you feel like you would rather just work alone to avoid certain personalities.

However that is usually not a realistic scenario in many jobs and causes that dreaded “erghhh, work tomorrow” feeling on a Sunday, or in extreme cases, every day of the week.

Whether this particular co-worker works in your office, building or even the other side of the country, coming into contact with this person is unavoidable and that is enough to make you “hate your job”.

Finding a way to work through these ill feelings and creating a positive working relationship is a necessity. Why? Research shows that the relationships you have at work can affect your performance (not to mention your sanity). So, the better your relationships at work are, the more productive, successful and happier you will be.

How?! Here are four easy tips for overcoming that horrible feeling you experience when you have to come into contact with your least favourite co-worker.

1. Getting to know the person

It is easy to misinterpret gestures, comments and behaviour and misread or judge people we do not know. It’s a habit and sometimes it is unconsciously done, however it can be the explanation for negative work relationships. It has been stated that we as people have a tendency for liking people who are similar to ourselves. Getting to know this “horrible” co-worker could allow you to find some similar interests or qualities that you never took the time to find. It also can allow a chance for a little bit of understanding towards the person’s behaviour (which, potentially drives you crazy). Being able to understand a person more can decrease the chance of you taking certain things as ‘rude’ or as ‘personal attacks’, cause they sometimes aren’t, however the behaviour is just not what we are familiar with. Which leads us to step two….

2. Don’t take things personally

As much as a certain co-worker can be difficult (some are even impossible) it is very easy to take certain behaviours in the workplace as personal, even if they are not intended to be. Not taking actions or comments as personal attacks improves you overall happiness, satisfaction and ability to perform at work. However, taking things personally can lead to negative views of your job, yourself and the offender.

3. Set Boundaries

Unlikable people seem to always come along with undesirable behaviours. A way to avoid these is to be honest (and professional) with this co-worker. If your dreaded co-worker likes to try and pass their tasks onto you to be completed, being open and honest with them is key. To avoid these types of situation starting (or going any further) simple responses such as, “I’m sorry Robert* I can’t do that task for you as I am already working on Project A and B.” Simple and straight to the point.

4. Don’t Stress

When you are dealing with all of the pressures of your life: work, family, home and personal pressures, you don’t want or need to be adding any more stress into your life. Being able to identify what you can and can’t control is a very powerful trick to overcome the stresses attached to working with a particularly challenging co-worker. You can’t control what another person says or does, however you can control how it affects you and your reaction. Determining what you should allow to bother you and what you can control or shape (and what you can’t) will allow you to overcome the negative feelings, stress and dislike for certain colleagues at work. Prioritise what is worth thinking twice about and what you should allow to continue without your worry. This behaviour and thinking will allow better enjoyment in your job and a positive attitude towards your work and yourself. Work can be hard with all of the different personalities and people associated with it. Not everyone you meet will be easy to deal with or treat you how you would like to be treated. However, focusing on yourself and how you deal with these people and their behaviour, rather than focusing on the person and how to ‘change’ or ‘fix’ their behaviour allows you to improve these working relationships and still enjoy your job. Which, in turn provides yourself with a greater opportunity of success and satisfaction within your work.

Interview Questions

When and How to Ask Your Own Interview Questions

Whether you're looking for work, or chasing that next big promotion it can sometimes feel as though all of the power lies in the hands of the employer, even though you might have a few questions of your own. It is important to view yourself as an asset, and understand that they need to win you over, just as much as you need to impress them.

When you're offered an interview

If your application has made it to the top of the pile, and you receive a phone call offering you an interview, it is important to seem engaged and well prepared. Ask the person making the offer whether there is anything you should bring in with you, or any research you should do in the lead up. It always helps to have samples of your work on hand in an interview, but asking these questions will help you to understand what direction the interview may go in, and how to ensure you present the best version of yourself.

During the interview

An experienced job-seeker will know that most interviews will finish up with the opportunity to ask your own questions. This can be the perfect time for you to build rapport with the interview panel, while also showing that you are engaged with the interview process, and have been thinking seriously about what you could bring to the role. Some questions you could try include:

I noticed that everyone looks really excited to be here, would you be able to tell me a little bit about your workplace culture?”

You mentioned that there are nine other people in the team, could you tell me about the structure of that team, and how I would fit in?”

I was wondering what a typical day in this role might look like? If you could give me some insight then I can start thinking about what approach I might take to my daily tasks.”

You will get bonus points for referencing topics that were brought up during the interview, and will seem even more engaged if you ask the occasional question yourself during the interview, rather than waiting to be prompted. If you aren't as confident in taking this approach, try to remember when a question occurs to you then find a way to tie it in at the end of one of your responses. For example:

...which is how I managed to sign up this great new client on the spot. Speaking of which, I was wondering what kind of approach your company takes towards generating new business leads?”

Follow up

Has it been more than a week since your interview? Feel free to call up your main contact and mention how happy you were with the interview, and that you were wondering when the panel would be making a decision. This helps to keep you at the front of their minds, especially if they interviewed a large number of applicants.

How to deal with nerves

How to Deal with Nerves Before Your Interview

We all get nervous from time to time, and sometimes it can feel like your nerves are holding you back. With a job interview just around the corner it is important to understand how to rein in your nerves and present yourself in the best light.

Look after yourself

Start your day in the best possible way, have a good night's sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, stay hydrated, and wear professional clothes which make you feel confident and comfortable. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the interview and remove as many stressors as you can in the lead up. It is amazing how much anxiety can fade away if you are in control of your environment, and if you are feeling good in yourself this will be reflected in your interview style.

Understand yourself

Have a think about what it is that is making you feel nervous. Think about the times you have felt confident in the past, and how you can replicate those circumstances now. Some people use exercise as stress relief, others mediate or listen to music. Figuring out what works for you, and getting into a routine which calms your nerves can be an important tool, and many of the most confident people you meet will have their own methods to combat and mask their own nerves.

Prepare yourself

If you feel like you are unprepared then taking action to rectify this will make you feel much better. Research the role, find out as much about the company as you can, read about similar roles and what might make you stand out from the crowd. Make a list of questions you might be asked and practise your responses in front of a mirror or with a friend.

Be kind to yourself

It's easy to feel like you are the only one who has to deal with nerves. The structure of an interview will often see you on one side of the table with two or three panelists, already at ease in their surroundings, already acquainted with each other, and with nothing to lose, all focused on you. Try to remember that anyone who is interviewing you has been in your shoes before. They felt exactly the same way, and have probably beaten themselves up about their own shortcomings at some stage. Yes, you need to impress these people, but they understand that this is a high pressure environment and won't hold your nerves against you. If you are well-prepared, well-presented and make an effort to engage with the panelists, you are already well on your way towards making a good impression.



About Us

The Institute of Careers is a leading career development and advisory support service, equipping Australian job-seekers and employees with the know-how to supercharge their careers. We offer a wide range of resources, including cheat sheets, FAQs and customisable templates, covering all aspects of professional development – from writing a cracking cover letter, searching for a job and selling yourself in an interview, to landing a promotion and becoming a great manager.