In an ideal world, we’d all just get along. But, when it comes to work (and lots of other parts of our lives for that matter), we sometimes don’t get to choose who we surround ourselves with. This can be tough, especially when you’re stuck with someone you don’t like for hours on end at work. Different personalities, styles and backgrounds can all come together at work to create some serious clashing on all fronts. This means it’s really not that uncommon for coworkers to dislike one another — or even hate each other (yikes!).
From time to time, we might even find ourselves caught in the middle of a workplace battle. We might end up stuck between two people who don’t get along and want to involve us in the drama of the situation. This can be uncomfortable and stressful – especially when we plain don’t know what to do.
Here are three tips for how to manage this tricky situation:
1. Don’t choose a side.
Do your best to remain neutral at all times. Don’t engage in any sort of gossip about your coworkers, or choose sides. You want to stay as far away from this as possible. Getting involved in discussions about these coworkers in even a small way may tarnish your reputation and could even impact your performance review. Steer clear, stay neutral and don’t choose a side. This is better for your mental health and your professional brand.
2. Set and communicate clear boundaries.
Setting meaningful boundaries personally and professionally is going to be key to your success. When we have healthy boundaries, we can accept positive people and actions into our lives. At the same time, we protect ourselves from people and situations that are harmful.
When it comes to coworkers who hate each other, set clear boundaries by openly communicating that you won’t get involved in their situation. It’s okay to be very clear and say things like: “I understand Lisa is bothering you, but I’m not going to engage in a discussion about her with you. We need to end this chat here.” Sure, people might not like how direct you’re being here. This is about you protecting yourself personally and professionally – not them. I want you to know that you deserve to set a boundary around this, and adopt a laissez-faire attitude around what others may have to say about it.
3. Discuss concerns with your manager.
If two coworkers hate each other, it’s pretty likely that this is going to have an impact on your ability to get your job done. This is especially true if you need both parties’ participation in a project, for example. If your coworkers are starting to have an impact on your ability to do your job, you need to address this situation with your manager. The best bet for an effective discussion is to focus on facts and remove emotion. This makes sure your account of the situation is professional and ensures you won’t be seen as a complainer.
Being caught in the middle of two coworkers who hate each other is tough. This can only go on for so long before it will start to impact your engagement at work. Remember to stay as disconnected from their drama as possible by setting healthy boundaries. It’s not your job to manage your coworkers, so when the time comes you’ll need to leave addressing the situation to your manager.