Throughout your professional career there will be people that you like and people that you don’t like. It’s inevitable. I’m going to share exactly how to work with people you don’t like because it’s a skill you definitely need to learn.
If you’re someone who gets along with everyone like I do, there will be far and few in between. However, it’s bound to happen eventually and being equipped with the right tools and mindset will really help.
It’s also important to note that there are differences in how you may not like someone at work. You could dislike someone’s personality but actually admire their work ethic and the way they handle situations. Alternatively, you could hate working with someone but absolutely love them on a personal level.
Regardless, here’s how to work with people you don’t like:
Control Your Emotions
The moment you realize you’re not getting along with someone, take a step back, take a breath and acknowledge it. You have to admit to yourself when this happens because if you ignore it, you’ll end up doing or saying something you regret down the road.
It’s easy to get carried away or let our emotions get the best of us, especially if someone is rude or disrespectful or just flat out annoying to be around.
After all, this a job and your coworkers are not always your friends. Maintain boundaries and set professional norms so that every conversation and interaction can be as civil and work-based as possible.
Try to Find Common Interest
Whenever you have to work together, whether on a project or in a meeting, try your best to find something you both like and are interested in. It can be work-related, educational, or personal. Try to pick out a topic that keeps your working relationship “safe.” Knowing you can have this topic as a fallback is super helpful and will keep things neutral and non-conflicted.
There are people at work that you may talk to about everything and some only a handful of topics. Again, always remember that everyone is unique and handles work relationships differently.
Make a Mental List of Things This Person is Good At
So maybe you don’t get along personally, but how is this person making your job easier and helping the company? Truly trying to see the good in someone will train your brain to like them more. There’s something good about everyone. Find out what those strong qualities are and constantly remind yourself of them.
This is especially helpful if in addition to not liking someone, you’re not getting along with them either. Being genuine about what you do like about someone is a great opportunity to give them a compliment. People love to receive positive feedback and compliments at work, so even if there are only a few of them, voicing them to your coworker can make the relationship stronger.
Try to Strategically Work Separately
There will still always be times that no matter what you’ve tried, you still can’t stand to be around someone. If you’re able to do this strategically, separate yourself from their work space, their meetings and longterm commitments. While you can’t always control who you have to work with, it doesn’t mean you have to be around this person all the time.
Set boundaries by making it clear you need alone time to work, go to other meetings, eat lunch, make a call, etc. so that you can break up your day in a way that is full-filling to you.
Fake It Until You Make It
When all else fails, just fake being nice to them. It may sound counterproductive and in-genuine, but this isn’t high school or even college. This is the work place and whether you like it or not, you’ll always be confronted with people you don’t like. You have to be civil for the sake of your job and the sake of the company.
Know When to Talk to HR
Hopefully it never gets to this, but if you’ve reached a point where you literally cannot do your job right or you feel you’re being discriminated against, disrespected, put down constantly, etc. bring it up to human resources. As someone whose debated this before, it’s so much easier said than done.
However, it’s so crucially important to say something because your job isn’t the only thing that depends on it, but your happiness too. HR is there to make sure everyone is happy, respected and feels safe in the workplace. Always say something if your gut is telling you to.