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.

Repairing a Broken Work Relationship

It’s not always easy or straightforward to repair a broken work relationship—but it can be done. The key is to take responsibility for the role you played in the damage and make the first move toward resolution.

Practice empathy, and try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Use this understanding to fix your own behaviour, first.

What can you do to be a better teammate? Apologise for your mistakes or wrongdoing, and strive to improve. You might also choose to have a direct conversation with the other person about the issue, and invite them to join your crusade against a shared problem or pursuit toward a common goal.

Finally, wave a white flag by making symbolic gestures of goodwill, such as verbalising praise or appreciation for the other person, offering to help them without expecting anything in return, or even inviting them to grab a coffee or join you for a social activity. With consistency and patience, burned bridges can be rebuilt.

Don’t stop working on your professional relationship after you’ve repaired the damage. Continue to develop your interpersonal skills and be careful to maintain the trust and goodwill that you’ve worked so hard to restore.

Building a Strong Working Relationship with Your Boss

The bottom line is that you can improve your working relationship with your boss by being a reliable and responsible team player.

Being reliable means doing what you say you’re going to do—and ideally, a little bit more.

Being responsible means taking ownership of your work and mistakes, communicating problems early, and telling your boss when a commitment is unrealistic.

And finally, being a team player means approaching challenges with a can-do attitude, as well as approaching the rest of your team with a genuine desire to support one another’s success.

Ask your boss for regular feedback. If you want to know how you could be a better employee, why not ask your boss directly?

Your boss will appreciate your initiative, and you can glean some helpful tips to develop as an individual and improve your professional relationship.

Building Strong Work Relationships with Your Co-workers

Strong working relationships are built on mutual trust, respect, and a shared commitment or understanding.

Both parties must act out of goodwill toward one another. That means you can strengthen your relationships with co-workers by earning their trust and respect. Always deliver on your goals, keep your commitments, and give credit or recognition where it’s due.

You can also foster a sense of camaraderie and goodwill from co-workers by being helpful, staying positive, and showing that you care about them.

Finally, show interest in your co-workers by reaching out and asking questions to solicit their ideas, insights, or aspirations.

The more value you bring to your relationship with your co-workers, the more they’ll feel moved to reciprocate your efforts and friendly nature.

Make a habit of asking yourself, “What do my co-workers need from me today?” 

Whether they need a word of encouragement, a second set of eyes on a project, or someone who can take a task off their plate and run with it, do everything in your power to fulfil that need for them.

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