How to Deal With Someone You Don't Like at Work
Updated July 21, 2022
If you work with others, it's likely that you may encounter someone you find challenging to be around. Although you would rather avoid this person, it's important that you remain polite and professional. By learning how to cooperate with this colleague, you can continue to have a conflict-free work environment. In this article, we discuss the importance of getting along with even the most challenging coworkers and explain how to deal with someone you don't like at work.
Why is it important to deal with someone you don't like at work?
In order to enjoy your job, it's important to find ways to deal with someone you don't like at work. Rather than letting this person test your patience, you need to find strategies to create a more harmonious workplace. By finding ways to either accept or resolve this coworker's behavior, you can focus on your job and overall happiness.
12 steps for how to deal with someone you don't like at work
Follow these steps to deal with a challenging coworker and improve your work environment:
Accept the situation
Document their behavior
Speak with human resources
Be mindful of yourself
Be the better person
Use your communication skills
Create healthy boundaries
Bond with your other coworkers
Try to understand their point of view
Reflect on your own behavior
Continue to be respectful
1. Accept the situation
If your coworker's behavior isn't violating any laws or workplace policies, then you may need to learn to accept the situation. You may find that you are the only person who dislikes this employee, which means you need to redirect your energy and efforts elsewhere. Realize that there are plenty of other people at your work to appreciate. Choose to find peace with this person and accept your differences.
2. Document their behavior
If you feel that your coworker is making you feel unsafe or disrespected at work, start documenting their behavior. Save any emails or messages that show unprofessional communications from them. This can help you see patterns in their actions and have evidence if you discuss this coworker's behavior with management.
3. Speak with human resources
Meeting with a human resources representative to discuss your colleague's behavior may help you find a resolution. The representative may privately speak to this employee and let them know they need to change their behavior. Make it clear that this employee is making it challenging to maintain a healthy work environment.
4. Be mindful of yourself
Rather than focusing on this coworker, focus on yourself. Try to be mindful of the present moment and direct your attention to your work. Being grateful for what is positive about your job can help you forget about this particular coworker. Try to be in charge of your own happiness and find things that make you smile. For instance, taking a quick break to go on a walk or taking some deep breaths can help you feel centered again.
5. Be the better person
Instead of mimicking this person's behaviors, try to be the better person. Continue to treat others with kindness. When you are uplifting and positive, you may find that others feel inspired to do the same. This can boost your workplace's employee morale and make it a better place to work. When everyone is on their best behavior, it is easier to ignore the person you dislike.
6. Use your communication skills
Try your best to resolve any conflict in the office by asking this coworker to privately talk to you for a moment. When it's time to speak with this person, remember you use "I" language. With this communication strategy, you take ownership for your own feelings and help the person understand how their behavior affects you. This can make them feel more open to an honest conversation.
Here are some examples of "you" statements vs. "I" statements:
"You always expect me to finish your work." vs. "I feel disrespected when you assume I can finish your tasks."
"You keep interrupting me." vs. "I feel that my thoughts and opinions matter, so I would appreciate it if you gave me a chance to speak."
"You need a better attitude." vs. "I think that if you tried to be more positive, our team could feel more uplifted."
"You need to fix this mistake." vs. "I would appreciate it if you looked at my feedback and applied it to your work."
7. Create healthy boundaries
Try to limit how often you are around this coworker. You could sit by other coworkers during lunch or make after-work plans with those you enjoy being around. If they are at the same events as you, try to make polite small talk and then move onto a conversation with someone else. Make this limitation subtle in order to be mindful of your coworker's feelings.
8. Bond with your other coworkers
Direct your attention to other coworkers. Instead of trying to get along with this person, make an effort to bond with those you enjoy being around. Find people who have a similar attitude about life as you to connect with. By surrounding yourself with uplifting and inspiring people, you can significantly improve your work environment.
9. Try to understand their point of view
Your coworker may just have a considerably different personality than you, which could result in conflict. They may be genuinely trying to get along with you, but their difference in personality may make this challenging to see. You may realize that as you get to know this person, you grow more accepting of their characteristics. Try to understand their perspective and how their life experiences influence who they are.
10. Remain neutral
Even if other coworkers are talking about this person, try to remain neutral. Share your thoughts with a manager or human resources representative rather than someone on your team. This way, your thoughts about this colleague stay private and are handled by the most appropriate person. Even if you dislike this person, they deserve to have a workplace where they feel respected.
11. Reflect on your own behavior
Perhaps your coworker is acting this way because you are treating them unfavorably. Think of how you treat others and determine if there is anything you could improve. You may find that by showing more kindness, others will return it back to you.
12. Continue to be respectful
Be mindful of what you say about this coworker to other people you work with. Keeping conversation positive and professional can help you act within your company's guidelines. By continuing to be respectful, you can maintain a positive reputation at work. This coworker you dislike may even learn to show you respect in return.
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