How to work with people you don’t like

21 Oct 2022

There are always going to be people you don’t like or can’t get along with. Be it general life or at work, you’re inevitably going to face someone you’ll have to see every day even when you won’t want to. During times like this, it can get hard to hold it in together, but with a few tactics to bear in mind, you can come out stronger and a better person. It’s impossible to like everyone around you, especially at work. 

It could be anything, a personal quarrel went wrong, an irritating quirk, or even a past conflict that prevents you from liking the said person. However, letting this get in the way of your professional life can be a big blow to your growth as an individual. So, how can you make the most of such a situation? 

Here’s how.

#1. Observe their bad behaviour

There has to be something particular about people you don’t like. While a past conflict may cloud your judgment, you need to observe and figure out those specific traits that you dislike about them, and how to bear with them in professional situations. 

Keep your distance from them and identify what is bothering you.

Once you’ve cracked that, imitating how others behave around them. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean they’re unlikable. Everyone might not be feeling what you’re feeling. Therefore, it’s easier to watch how others behave around them and set standards for your actions accordingly.

#2. Know if it’s just you

You can’t be sure that the problem is always the other person. Maybe you’re the irritating co-worker that your colleagues have to learn to deal with. If this is the case, a little bit of introspection can go a long way. Learn about the situation from their perspective. Identify if you’re the problem here and see if you can turn the situation around. 

There’s always a cure if you’re the problem, because the change will be in your hands. 

Diffuse the situation as early as possible so that it doesn’t affect your professional life.

#3. Learn about them

Try and learn their mannerisms, what they like about meetings or how their style of conversation usually is. Be kind to them. Know what makes them tick so that you can avoid it in passing. 

You don’t have to necessarily be best friends with them, but you can inherently try to maintain a bare minimum of a healthy relationship in a professional setting.

#4. Grow up

There are moments in our lives we don’t want to experience but have to regardless. If a colleague you detest said something mean and you know that’s the way he/she is, do not take things personally. Switch topics during the conversation to keep it strictly professional. 

It’s alright to be the bigger person, because what are you going to do hold on to that anger? After all, anger does more harm to you than the other person, especially in a professional setting.

#5. Do not gossip

We are better people than this—do not subject the person you do not like into any form of victimisation. Pause, regain your control and keep your head steady. You will naturally be tempted to give in to gossip about the person you dislike, but there is nothing being gained here. Think of why you got the job, think of bigger things that drive you—not minuscule and irrelevant things like gossip. 

#6. Communicate

Try and find some common ground with the person that you dislike. Not liking someone doesn’t mean you can avoid conversation with them permanently, there will come situations in your professional life where you might have to interact with them. 

Remain proactive. Try and verbalise boundaries if you feel the need for it. 

Ultimately, know when to walk away and keep your head held high. After all, we are all human beings. We are social animals, who cannot function without one another, and after all—it’s impossible to do all things alone, especially in an organization. And thus, you must try as much as possible to look for positivity in people, even if you don't like them. It’s okay not to like someone, and it’s okay if this someone is in the same team or office. 

Always be mature about situations such as these and try to bring the best out of it—professionally and personally. Holding onto feelings of distaste is a heavy burden. The more forgiving and ‘let loose’ you are, the better it is for your mental health, professional growth, and productivity.

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