I Don't Like The People I Work With – Help!
March 29, 2017
By Russell Correa, Ed.M., LMHC (guest blog writer)
Last year, I was assigned a new colleague to work with. Everything in terms of our work relationship started well enough. We exchanged the normal pleasantries co-workers talk about when they first meet - generic information about our personal backgrounds, our approaches towards work and the fact that we were both open to direct feedback from the other. It took about a week before things began to go sour between us.
He began to cut me off before I was finished speaking. When he was unhappy with the time it took for me to give him something, he would send me an email and cc my boss. When I approached him to talk about projects, he would continue to look directly at his computer and type away while he responded back to me. To top it off, he would “wordsmith” all of my documents, filling my work with lines upon lines of track changes. I can’t begin to tell you how much I grew to dislike him. I mean I really, really disliked this person. But short of closing my door and refusing to acknowledge his existence, I still had to figure out a way to interact and collaborate with him. So what does one do when they have to work with someone they just don’t like?
My first idea was to “google” - how to work with someone you don’t like. About 17,000 results came back and I proceeded to read the first few results. Suggestions included:
- Try to find the positive in the person.
- Accept that you are not going to like everyone you work with.
- Be extra nice to that person and kill them with kindness.
- Don’t worry about them; just focus on yourself.
My reaction to these suggestions was “what a bunch of crap!” How does finding the positive in someone help me during tense office exchanges? How does not worrying about the other person help me when its 5pm and I’m depending on them for a work deliverable so I can go home. And that’s the main problem with the kind of advice you find online or through advice forums. It all sounds really good when you read it but when you try to apply it, well, that's a different story. So what did I do? Not that any of these strategies are full-proof, but they did improve my situation. Maybe they can help you too.
- Be aware of what you may be adding to the situation. The other person may not like you either. Think about what your difficult workplace behaviors might be and stop acting that way.
- Think why the behavior of the person is bothering you so much. Is the other person really acting out of line or are you just being over-sensitive? An important question to always ask yourself is What if I’m wrong here?
- Never respond back with emotion. Emotions are a lot like the weather here in Miami. One minute, it’s raining. The next minute, it’s sunny. Wait 30 minutes. You might be surprised how things, including your perspective, change.
- If you decide to address the problem with your co-worker, consider announcing the potential awkwardness of the situation when you approach them and never use accusatory language – “Listen, I may not say this right and I don't want you to feel uncomfortable or defensive, but I feel like there are some conflicts between us that I’d like to resolve so we can have a respectful working relationship”.
- Change the narrative. People are not difficult. Behavior is difficult. If you label the person as nasty and unlikeable, you're creating a strong bias against them that will be difficult to move past.
If you would like to learn more insights and tips into this topic, please register for a 30-minute webinar I will be hosting on April 12th from 12:30 – 1pm:
"I Don’t Like the People I Work with – Help!”
The registration fee is $25 for individuals and $100 for groups and agencies (for 5 or more attendees). This webinar is part of my ongoing Working Smarter / Living Smarter series that I will be hosting in 2017. For more information and to register, go to http://www.zetaconsultingfl.com/LivingandWorkingSmarterWebinar.en.html
About Russell Correa, Ed.M., LMHC
As the Principal of Zeta Consulting Group, Russell Correa brings close to 20 years of experience as a licensed clinician, certified executive coach, HR & Management consultant and trainer to his work. Russell also serves as a board member for Allegany Franciscan Ministries, a funder of nonprofits in the Miami, Tampa Bay and Palm Beach areas.
About the Working Smarter / Living Smarter Series
Lunch-Time Learning for Your Fast-Paced Schedule
Everyone wants to improve at what they do and who they are, but finding the time to fulfill this commitment is a challenge. The Working Smarter / Living Smarter Series helps you towards both of these goals with bite-size learning geared towards adult learning styles and fast-paced schedules. Grab your lunch, invest 30 minutes and reap the rewards of learning something new to be a “better” you.
For more info and to register, go to http://www.zetaconsultingfl.com/LivingandWorkingSmarterWebinar.en.html