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.