Working with People You Don’t Like

You won’t always like the people you work with, but you can always treat them with professionalism, kindness, and respect. Follow these six best practices to maintain your composure and overcome your frustration with a boss or coworker:

  1. Turn inward. Focus on yourself—not the other person. Examine your own behaviours, expectations, and assumptions. Control your reactions.
  2. Get to know them. Make an effort to get to know the other party on a personal level. Look for similarities and shared connections. Try to understand their background and why they might act the way they do.
  3. Treat them how you want to be treated. Take the lead in treating the other person how you want to be treated, and they’ll likely reciprocate your behaviours.
  4. Focus on shared goals. Stop focusing so much on your feelings. Instead, throw yourself into your work and shared goals. Recognize the other party’s skills and contributions.
  5. Communicate your needs. Talk to your coworker about any behaviours that are interfering with your ability to do your job. Be direct when communicating your needs.
  6. Take space when you need it. Finally, don’t hesitate to excuse yourself from a conversation to cool off and collect your thoughts before responding.

With a little perspective and effort, you can still build a positive working relationship and collaborate effectively with people you don’t like. 

Talk to your manager if you’ve exhausted other options. If you’ve tried all of these tips, talked to your coworker about an issue directly, and still can’t find a way to work together effectively, then it may be time to talk to your manager.

Just make sure that you go to your manager to brainstorm solutions—not to complain. Developing a growth mindset means adopting the belief that our talents and intelligence are cultivated—not fixed at birth.

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