The art of working with someone you dislike

What do you do if you dislike one or more of your work colleagues? You can’t choose your family and unless you’re the boss or in charge of recruitment, you don’t get to choose the people you work with either. It can be a difficult situation, particularly given the amount of time you spend at work, so it’s important to develop a strategy. Here are a few tips about how to go about it.

Define your dislike

This might seem a little extreme but how about trying to define why you dislike a person so much? Make a list of the reasons why you dislike them, putting it all down on paper might help to break some barriers down, especially if the reasons are a little trivial. If there are good reasons, then work to separate the hard facts from your interpretation. From there some of the following tips might be relevant.

Instigate communication

If the problem has been wholly engineered by a work situation a direct conversation, a direct conversation may provide the solution. There is a four point formula for this kind of interaction –

  • Begin by explaining what it is you think hasn’t worked and invite a reply.
  • Explain your take on the situation, accepting that you have only one side of the story
  • Try to offer some solutions if it is an on-going issue or ways that you can try and work better together in the future
  • Listen to the response and invite polite discussion.

Limit interaction

If none of this works then the next step is to try and limit the amount of interaction that needs to take place between you. This is obviously easier if it is someone who works in a different office or department. Although not the perfect scenario this does offer an opportunity for you to show your professionalism. The potential pit-falls however are many and you should certainly not descend into gossip or create an atmosphere which ultimately leaves you in complete silence for the duration of the day. These are situations that can easily escalate if not handled correctly.

Take action

If the situation continues to worsen, to the point where it begins to affect performance and productivity, both for yourself and your colleagues, then it’s possibly time to take it to your boss. It’s much better if you can present your problem professionally and especially if you can give examples of how you’ve tried to tackle the issue yourself.

Get a new job!

This may sound like a radical solution but maybe it’s the only step left open to you. See it as opportunity rather than a threat and a chance to explore some new options. If that’s how it ends up, maybe Owen Payne could help you with your next move?