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10 Things Smart People Do When They Don’t Like Their Coworkers
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AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
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You're going to come across a number of different people in your life, especially if you're working full time. The thing about people you meet through work is that you can't choose whether or not you spend your time with them — often, you'll even have to collaborate and work directly with them. But just because you don't click doesn't necessarily mean that you can't have a strong working relationship. You just need to find the best ways to deal with the people with whom you don't get along. After all, the more you can work with people with whom you disagree, the more you'll grow as a person and develop as a strong employee.

That said, according to Bravely, 70 percent of employees avoid initiating difficult conversations with their boss and colleagues. In fact, 53 percent of employees choose to ignore workplace problems rather than work to solve them, and only 31 percent of managers believe they address workplace confrontations well.

Here are 10 expert tips to help you survive any situation with dignity.

1. Accept That You Can't Please Everyone

As the saying goes, you can't please everyone. It's the truth — and, in a blog post on Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Krauss says that you and the other displeased person probably just aren't a good fit. It may have to do with your different behavioral styles. Regardless, don't sweat it. So long as how you're behaving is office appropriate, and you maintain professionalism at all times, keep on keeping on.

2. Look on the Bright Side

In the same post, Dr. Krauss suggests that you try and look at how people are acting differently, and try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this other person doesn't have any ill will toward you and isn't trying to tick you off, sabotage you or anything else. Maybe they're having an off day or something slipped or they're overwhelmed or they didn't get much sleep. 

3. Try to Empathize with Them

In another post on Psychology Today, Dr. Marianna Pogosyan suggests that you work to understand the person with whom you don't get along. Empathy, she says, is key. "Empathy reduces the distance between us and others, and facilitates social connectedness and coherence," she writes. "As a measure of emotional intelligence, it is an ingredient that makes for better leaders, physicians, and conversation partners. Empathy fosters emotional bonding between parents and infants, between partners and friends, and between members of society as a whole."

4. Be Mindful

It's critical to maintain self-awareness in a disagreement with another person, especially a coworker in a professioal setting. Remember that Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quote: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Recognize your feelings of aggravation or anger or whatever emotion is running through your body, but don't attach to those feelings or they'll consume you — acknowlege them and let them go. 

5. Don't Take it Personally

In a  post on LinkedIn, president of TalentSmart Dr. Travis Bradberry says to think of it this way: "If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke?" No. "You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers." If a person is driving you crazy, don't take it personally; you can remove yourself from the situation. 

6. Stay Calm

As the saying goes, keep calm and carry on.

"Try to be the voice of reason," recommends Victor Lipman in a post on Psychology Today. "If you cultivate the ability to stay calm and look for reasonable constructive solutions at these moments—let's figure out a quick fix for that PowerPoint, let's examine the broader competitive sales environment, etc.—you'll find yourself respected for it. You may even gain a reputation as a go-to person in such situations, which is not at all a bad reputation to have in the business world."

7. Be Clear on Your Agenda

It's important to understand what your ideal outcome would be in an argumentative situation so that you can communicate it clearly. 

"Communicating is often hard work," writes Dr. Philip J. Rosenbaum of Psychology Today. "It requires a willingness to think about what we are saying and, equally importantly, how we are saying it."

8. Pick Your Battles

Sometimes you just have to choose your battles at work because, frankly, not everything is worth your time and you really need to have your attention elsewhere — like on your actual work. 

Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, told ABC that "healthy relationships hinge on a couple's ability to know which issues are worth fighting over and which ones are worth letting go." The same goes for coworkers. Only tackle issues worth tackle, and come up with a plan of action. Then choose the right time to have that "battle," and have it respectfully — no yelling or cursing or condescending.

9. Don't Get Defensive

The reason you don't get along with a coworker might not actually have anything to do with you. It might, in fact, have everything to do with the other person, such as their insecurities. Neuroscientist Dr. Berit Brogaard explains in a blog post on Psychology Today that workplace gossip and bullying may actually be a powerplay or a way of bullying others into submission.

10. Don't Let it Ruin Your Day

While research actually suggests that people who feel sad perform better at detail-oriented tasks and negotiate more effectively than those who are happy, feeling sad or aggravated or easily agitated all the time will ultimately impact your work — and, yes, your mental health. So, all in all, be kind to yourself. You're there to be a professional and to get a job done well. The second you let other people have control over your feelings and, ultimately, your productivity, you're in a toxic environment.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.

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