When you love your job, but hate your coworkers


Workplace bullying may increase risk of suicidal thoughts
Workplace bullying may increase risk of suicidal thoughts

In Summary

  • Sometimes personalities clash, work approaches differ and management tactics don't jibe.
  • Get the conversation going with questions like: How do you find working with me? What can I do to help our working relationship?
  • You can't control someone else's behavior, but you can control your response and how you deal with it.

Many of us spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our family members. But that doesn’t mean we like them?

Sometimes personalities clash, work approaches differ and management tactics don’t jibe. And even if you love your job, not getting along with your colleagues can make you dread going to work.

“Your success really largely depends on your ability to have a productive relationship with your colleagues,” said Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant.”

You don’t have to be best friends with everyone at work, but it’s in your best interest to at least be friendly with your colleagues.

Meet on neutral territory

Identify the root of the issue you have with a coworker and ask him or her out to lunch to discuss how to make the situation better.

Start the conversation by focusing on any shortcomings you might have, advised Taylor.

Get the conversation going with questions like: How do you find working with me? What can I do to help our working relationship?

“That is the least threatening way to bring it up,” she said. When sharing what bothers you about a colleague, starting and ending the conversation with a compliment and keeping the constructive criticism in between can help lessen the blow.

“The middle part is the tough part,” Taylor said. “You don’t need to make any excuses or apologize. Just be direct, friendly and upbeat.”

Use phrases like: “In order to do my best work I need you to…” or “It upsets me when you do …”

Set boundaries

You can’t control someone else’s behavior, but you can control your response and how you deal with it.

If your dislike stems from micro-management or an overly-talkative colleague, create some space without being offensive.

For instance, if you have a micro-manager that needs frequent status updates that you find distracting and interferes with your work flow, set up a time to sit down for regular updates or create a document that the manager or teammates can access, suggested Amy Cooper Hakim, an industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and workplace expert.

Find a safe haven

If not getting along with someone is starting to interfere with your productivity, ask to work a different schedule or work remotely.

“Even telecommuting one day a week and not having to be physically in the same environment can help you get through the day,” said Hakim.

And while you’re at the office, limit your direct interaction with the person, recommended Paul White, a psychologist and co-author of “Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment.”

“Minimize ongoing contacts and interaction. Having another person present also helps diffuse the energy somewhat.”

Remember: You don’t have to get along

You are an introvert and your colleague is more of an extrovert. Or he needs to talk everything out when you like to fly solo. It’s going to happen, so acknowledge the differences and move on.

“There will be all kinds of personalities in the workplace,” said Taylor. “You can kind of acknowledge people for who they are and appreciate people for their differences.”

Finding common ground can make it easier to tolerate

“Try to connect with them, either something in your backgrounds, interests or just try to understand them better,” said White.

You need to be friendly with your coworkers, but not necessarily friends, Hakim said. But you still need to have a working relationship and that requires you to interact and work together.

“Stick with basic small talk,” she said. “Topics like the weather and sports. Stay away from politics.”

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