How to Work with People You Really Hate

In: How To

Our coworkers are rarely the most pleasant people in the world. Personalities clash, the working styles vary, leading to inevitable arguments and conflicts in the workplace. For most of us, good relationships with colleagues are the important component of work satisfaction. However, what if you don’t see eye to eye with your boss, subordinate or coworker? Or, what if you have to work closely with someone you really hate?

The quality of workplace interactions affects us more than we think. In particular, the necessity of dealing with a difficult coworker on a regular basis can cause severe workplace stress, decrease our productivity and even make us think about writing a good CV to look for new employment elsewhere. 

Unfortunately, we cannot always choose who we work with. What we can control, though, is the mental attitude towards this difficult workplace relationship and the way we interact with a hatred colleague. Getting your resume written professionally and quitting isn’t always an option – try to resolve the situation first. Below, you’ll find hands-on tips on dealing with a person you hate working with.

How to deal with people you don’t like: 11 tips

The context of your hate towards someone in the office might be quite different. Maybe, the two of you were considered for a promotion, and the fact that the boss gave it to you pissed them off. Or, you had an office romance that didn’t end on a good note. Or probably, you simply have to deal with a difficult coworker who complains all the time and stresses others out. In either case, consider trying the following ways to fix the situation:

Get to know your colleague on a personal level

Quite often, we dislike people simply because they look different to us and display the behavior that we cannot understand. For instance, in the office we can get irritated by a person who works at the different pace than we do, who is too reserved or too arrogant. The cure for this type of hate is to get the person better and try to connect with them at a personal level. Try to overcome your negative feelings and come up to the person for a small talk, invite them out for a lunch or ask them to contribute to the project you’re working on.

By learning more about your hatred colleague and his life, you can minimize your hate and even develop the empathy towards them. For example, you may find out that they are a control freak because they had an authoritative boss in the previous company (by the way, check out what makes the difference between the boss and a real leader: http://resumeperk.com/blog/differences-between-boss-and-a-real-leader. Or, you can realize that your coworker is mean and irritated because she is going through a divorce at the moment. Knowing your colleague on a personal level can even turn your tense relationship into friendship.

Keep in mind that trying to befriend your foe won’t work if your hatred colleague displays toxic behavior or is simply offensive.

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Don’t take the way they act personally

The main reason why we overreact and quickly get frustrated because of someone’s bad temper, poor manners and wrong attitude is that we take all this down.  While this may be true to some extent (for example, if the coworker doesn’t like you as well), remember that their behavior is driven by their personal factor rather than your actions. In other words, your hatred colleague acts negatively or arrogantly because of their own issues. That’s why you should stop taking their words or actions personally – it’s just the type of behavior they are used to and you are unable to drive the other person’s actions. By the way, the ability to distract from unpleasant situations and people will help both your career and personal development.

Another big no-no in the situation with difficult coworker is no gossip. Yes, it may be tempting to complain about someone who drives you crazy, but if the rumors reach that person, it won’t help with improving the relationship between you. Moreover, gossiping by the cooler won’t make you a stronger candidate for the promotion.

Set boundaries to avoid getting stressed out

As we’ve said above, to minimize the stress you experience because of the disliked coworker, you need to stop taking everything they say or do personally. However, it’s only the first step towards your calm mind. Next, you should learn how to distance yourself from that behavior. Determining and communicating boundaries for what is acceptable for you will help you minimize the negative interactions with people who really irritate you.

One of the best ways to set those boundaries is to respond constructively to emotional complaints of others. For instance, if the colleague moans about how bad your report is, instead of listening to their thoughts and emotions, politely interrupt them and say, “I’m really busy at the moment, but you can send me the constructive suggestions and I’ll correct it as soon as possible” or “I don’t think that discussing and badmouthing the clients is professional. Is there something specific I can help you with?”. The more often you highlight that you don’t have time for destructive talks or you don’t want to participate in destructive behavior, the faster you’ll minimize then and feel relieved.

It’s also important to communicate your boundaries via email. You might also benefit from these tips on effective email writing: http://resumeperk.com/blog/how-to-write-effective-email-that-get-opened.

Try to be nice and helpful

When it comes to improving office relationships, sometimes the simplest things work. If you have this colleague who really annoys you, try not to overreact to their ignoring you or telling negative things. Instead, make baby steps towards a friendly relationship.

Start with simple things such as saying “Hello”, “Have a nice evening” or initiate a small talk about the weather, traffic, food or any other neutral subject. Avoid the taboo topics of conversation. Offer to bring them a coffee or help to resolve a minor software issue. Congratulate the colleague if the boss praised them for their contribution and support their idea during the meeting. Quite often, these little steps and your warm attitude help to break the ice between you and the hatred coworker, and you can even become good friends.

Being always nice doesn’t work if you want to build a career quickly, though. Learn more about the ways to climb up the corporate ladder at all costs: http://resumeperk.com/blog/climbing-career-ladder-all-is-fair.

Have a one-to-one conversation

If the relationships between you and your coworker are tense, sometimes a good conversation can help. Ask them out after work and suggest to discuss the situation. Say that you are concerned with the fact you’re not getting along well and ask whether it’s possible to change it. Maybe, the person was offended by your inappropriate comment at the meeting month ago and it turned their attitude very sour. If the person has high self-awareness and receptiveness, having a conversation will help you sort things out. However, be sure to do so not in business hours – in some companies, boss is spying on you at the workplace.

Provide constructive feedback or criticism on the way the person acts. In certain cases, the person might be simply unaware that their misunderstanding of office etiquette rules drives those working next to them crazy (by the way, you can check out the rules of workplace etiquette here: http://resumeperk.com/blog/lifeline-for-newcomers-unspoken-rules-of-office-etiquette).

If the things between you went from silent hate to open confrontation, consider having a conversation with a referee (for example, your boss or a team leader). In the presence of the third party, the two of you will find it easier to formulate the claims and work towards the solution.

Avoid them whenever possible

If the person that irritates you isn’t someone you are working closely on tasks and projects, it’s a good idea to limit your interactions with them at all costs. It won’t resolve the problem of stressful relationship, but at least will minimize the stress levels.

There are lots of ways to avoid the person in the office. Every time you need to ask for figures or discuss the corrections in the report with them, opt for e-mail or chat rather than face-to-face conversation. Don’t get involved in a discussion or argument with them during meetings. Stay away from their table during the lunchtime. Avoid group activities that they are involved into. If the issue between two of you wasn’t serious, chances are that the problem will run out of itself in a few weeks. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to try the other methods.

Does the office relationships problem make you unmotivated and uninspired to come to work every day? Try these tricks to regain your motivation: http://resumeperk.com/blog/simple-ideas-to-regain-motivation-for-working.

Manage the way you react to the situation

In fact, it’s not someone’s behavior but your reaction to it that makes you feel annoyed, angry or miserable. Your colleague might slightly irritate you or drive you totally crazy making your anger go out of control and, unfortunately, you cannot change the way they act. However, you can absolutely change your reaction to a particular person or situation, thus managing your levels of irritation and stress.

So, how exactly do you do it? If someone is driving you mad, recognize your feelings and let them go without connecting them with this person in your mind. Sometimes smiling and agreeing with what they say is enough to avoid the conflict. If you cannot take the situation calmly, try the meditation or relaxation techniques. As mentioned above, the people are mostly driven by their own internal issues rather than you, and your task to treat everyone friendly and with respect. As soon as you learn to stay calm in front of the irritating people and situation, your relationships with others in the office will change for better.

To put the stressful situation out of your mind, try focusing on something else. For instance, you can use these tips to find the lost inspiration for work: http://resumeperk.com/blog/10-ways-to-find-lost-desire-and-inspiration.

Maybe it’s about you, not them?

If you feel hate or anger towards some person in your company, it’s a good idea to reflect upon these feelings and understand what exactly drives you crazy. Do you dislike something specific about your colleague or every breath they take irritates you? Be honest with yourself. Maybe, you don’t like this individual because they remind of your ex-boyfriend who cheated on you, or they have personality traits that you dislike in yourself. Probably, they are just different from you – in working style, speech or even the way they look. The experts say that the more different someone is from us, the more likely we will have a negative reaction to them. Another possible reason for your hate is jealousy – maybe, you are jealous of the person’s success or even would like to have their job.

The things is, the negative emotions caused by our inner drivers can cause our dislike or even hate towards the colleague. Dive deep into what causes your feelings. If you realize that your hate is caused by one of the above factors, you’ll be able to follow and control your triggers, and your relationships will inevitably improve.

Keep your attitude to yourself

If you are dissatisfied and concerned with the hatred coworker’s behavior or attitude, it’s natural to feel the need to share your frustration with someone else. However, be very careful when discussing what you think about the disliked person with other colleagues. You can gain a reputation of an office gossip for talking and complaining about people behind their backs. People may think that you tell similar things about them as well and will be reluctant to deal with you. Needless to say that this sort of reputation works against you if you are looking to build your career by 35.

Moreover, by complaining to others, you make them feel stressed as well. If the rumors reach the colleague you dislike, it can make your relationship even worse. For all of the above reasons, be sure to keep your discontent and anger to yourself while you’re working to improve the situation.

Develop the ability to display a friendly attitude towards everyone and treat everyone with the same level of respect. This trait will help you build productive relationships with managers and subordinates and work your way up when you decide to plan a future career.

Consider going freelance

Do the relationship with a difficult coworker totally stress you out? Then, you might benefit from working remotely or becoming a freelancer. The undisputable benefit of freelancing is that you don’t have to work next to someone who drives you crazy and can handle the conversations with unpleasant people via e-mail or the phone. Moreover, you won’t have to spend time on endless meetings or chit-chat by the cooler and will be able to focus on your work. For some people, freelancing is the best suitable way of working – maybe, you’re one of them?

However, note that freelancing will require you to reconsider the entire approach to working. You’ll have to be your own employer, managing your promotion, client management and finances. To find out whether this career option is for you, find out if you really should say yes to freelancing. You’ll also need to update your old resume so that it sells your skills better. By the way, our writer can help you polish your old resume at a very affordable fee.

Admit the fact you can’t get on well with everyone

You can’t be friends with everyone you work with. At any company you come to work for, there will be people you like, people you have neutral attitude to and the people you don’t get along with. And this is completely normal. People have different behavioral styles, personality types and work attitude in general, which is bound to cause misunderstandings and personality clashes. In most cases, there aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people in the office – we’re just different.

A lot depends on how you approach your relationships with someone you dislike. Do you focus on your negative emotions, experience constant stress and try to attack the hatred coworker in return? Or, do you put on an extra effort trying to keep your interactions productive and professional, or maybe even friendly? If you opt for the latter strategy and take the above listed advice, your relationships with the hatred colleague are likely to improve over time or just won’t bother you much.

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How to tell when it’s time to quit?

Career experts recommend that you use every chance to improve the relationships with someone you dislike instead of quitting because of the difficulty in finding the common language with a coworker. However, in certain cases it’s better to say your boss “I quit” without hesitations:

  • If your stress because of the coworker gives you health problems, such as bad sleep, overeating, headaches, or you start drinking a lot to relax;
  • If the environment in the office is toxic and there are actually many people who stress you out;
  • Your attempts to influence the situations don’t bring results (the person wouldn’t discuss things with you and the boss tends to ignore the conflict or fact of tense office relationships);
  • You experience workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination – it’s better to file a claim and start looking for a new job.

By the way, if you are looking for the job at the moment, don’t forget about the best questions to ask at the end of a job interview to make the prospective employer fall in like with you. Also, make sure that your resume is up to scratch – if it’s poorly written, it will take you much longer to land a desired position. You can get your resume written professionally at our website.

Handling the 5 most unpleasant office situations

In addition to difficult colleagues, there are a plenty of unpleasant and tricky workplace situation that you may encounter during the course of your career. It’s important to handle them in the right way, too – if not resolved properly, they can damage your career or even cost you a job. Here are the most common office problems – and how to resolve them:

  1. Your boss is taking the credit for your work or ideas
    If you suspect that your supervisor plays up your ideas as their own in high-level meetings, you need to bring it up in a conversation. However, it’s important to approach the subject of discussion carefully – if you blame the manager of stealing your ideas, it can totally ruin your relationship. First of all, come up to your supervisor and say that you enjoy collaborating with them and are happy that your ideas turn out to be beneficial for the team and the company in general. Then, in a positive key, ask if you are getting enough credit when the supervisor presents your suggestions to senior managers or other teams. In this case, you’ll approach the subject without direct confrontation and open the space for a dialogue. In most cases, this is enough to encourage your boss to give you enough credit in the future. However, if they deny presenting your ideas as their own, note that you’ll struggle building your own career under their supervision – consider changing the department or the company.
  2. You haven’t been given a promotion for a long time
    You’ve been working in the same role for over a year, and you are quite successful at what you do. However, you’re overdue for a promotion and haven’t received a pay raise either. How do you start a conversation with your boss?
    First of all, show that you understand the current company situation (especially if sales have decreased or it’s a low season). After that, be sure to present your boss the evidence why you deserve a promotion or a pay raise – show the results you’ve achieved, trainings/courses you’ve taken, and any awards for excellent performance. Keep the conversation polite yet firm. If you are offered additional perks instead of increase in pay, you can take it – especially if the company is short of money right now. However, in this case you need to re-approach your boss in a few months, and if they reject your request again, it’s a good idea to start looking for a new job.  
  3. You’ve become a subject of office gossip
    Becoming a subject of office gossip or backstabbing is always unpleasant. When the details of your personal life are exposed to everyone in the office, it can frustrate you and reduce your productivity. Unfortunately, there is anything that you can do about it – except for keeping your private secrets for yourself and for a trusted group of friends. Also, beware of gossiping about others – the same people who kept the conversation about your hatred colleague from the office next door might be as involved in gossip about you a week later. Don’t get too frustrated, as it will unlikely last long – the office gossips are constantly looking for the new juicy facts and will forget about you in a week or two.
    Does the office life seem dull and boring without gossiping? Try these ways to get away from the work routine that won’t damage your reputation.
  4. You have to work closely with a lazy coworker
    Having to collaborate with a lazy colleague who doesn’t make an equal contribution can be really frustrating. All in all, each of you were hired to do the job, and you shouldn’t have to put in extra effort for the colleague who under delivers.
    First of all, try and talk to the person about your dissatisfaction and concerns. Say that you enjoy working with them and you value their contribution, but you’ve felt too busy completing their share of work recently. It may happen that your coworker faces family problems or any other kind of private issues that has prevented them from doing their job properly. However, if this doesn’t work, be sure to report to management about the situation – you don’t have to cover for someone’s laziness.
  5. You face racial/sexual discrimination or workplace harassment
    The world has changed dramatically over the past decades, however, you still may encounter the racial/sexual discrimination in the workplace. If you became a target of this kind of behavior, you need to make it clear that it’s inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to report about the issue to your supervisor, senior staff and file a claim if your words are ignored.
    In case with sexual or any other kind of harassment, write it down, find witnesses and report the situation to the senior manager or file out a claim. Seek for support from other coworkers and your friends as you’re going through the situation.

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