How to Work with Someone You Don't Like

Jun 10, 2010
4 Min Read

Human beings have a variety of personality types and different work styles, which makes it impossible to get along with all of our team members all of the time.  However, unless you want your negative feelings about a certain person to suck the productivity and enthusiasm out of your work day, it’s in your best interest to control and mitigate them.

Consider the Why

Start by articulating why you don’t like this person.  Did she wrong you in some way?  Maybe her way of interacting just irritates you?   Be honest with yourself: does she really deserve your ire, or are you being sensitive, jealous, mean-spirited, etc.?

Be Empathetic

In the event that the person has earned your malice, take a minute and put yourself in her shoes.  Think about what may have happened in her life to cause her to act in a disagreeable manner.  Don’t limit yourself to the scant information you have as the person’s colleague – just because her life seems rosy on the outside doesn’t mean that’s the reality.

Look at the Whole Person

Consider what you do like about the person – a terrific work ethic, quick problem solving ability, a good sense of humor, etc.  Since only a very small percentage of the population is sociopathic, she must have some positive qualities.  You may find that once you force yourself to think about these attributes, your feelings may shift and you will genuinely like the person more.  In return, she will probably like you more and you will be able to improve the overall dynamic.

Try to Resolve Conflicts

If you’ve established an ongoing pattern of negative interactions with a team member, a confrontation may be your best bet.  Sit down with the person and acknowledge the tension between you.  Ask her what you can do to improve the relationship and see what she says.  Often, this type of discussion will shock a team member into behaving better.

If not, though, you’ve done your best.  Stay out of her way as much as you can and don’t take her style personally.  Avoid the temptation to gossip or complain about her to other team members because in the end, this will harm your reputation more than it will hers.

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