You spend a large chunk of your life at work and usually it’s spent with people that normally, you wouldn’t willingly hang out with. Unless you want to be miserable at work, or get fired, you need to find away to work around it. You don’t need to like the people you work with, but you do need to be professional.
The most common reason cited by employees for not liking co-workers relates to the employee in question exhibiting, to some degree, challenging behaviours. I wrote about the impact challenging employees have on business here. Some of the most common challenging, or toxic behaviours found in the workplace are;
The Hot Mess
Incompetent, unreliable & erratic, The Hot Mess can kill productivity for the whole team. Whether they just don’t know how to do their job, or just don’t want to, they bring everyone down with them. Fun fact – Studies have shown low performing employees to be the most happiest in the team & often rate their workplaces as a great place to work. Ahhh ignorance is bliss.
We’ve all worked with one, finding a way to get out of work is a full time job for The Slacker. Like The Hot Mess they are a major drain on everyones time and enthusiasm and don’t really seem to care what others think of them. If they can find away to get out of something they will.
The complete opposite of The Slacker but The Martyr comes with its own set of problems, not just a hard worker, they generally insist on doing everything themselves and aren’t shy about letting everyone know either. The Martyr is a control freak that creates unrest in the workplace, undermines the confidence of team members and is “that person” who comes to work when sick and spreads there germs around. Life Pro Tip if you do this – no job & no employee is that important, all you are doing is infecting your co-workers and reducing productivity even further, just stay home kids.
Funny, entertaining and everyone’s best friend, The Socialite treats everyday at work as though it’s their own private party or stage for the day. For The Socialite, gossip & chatting are always the core component of the day, and while having some fun at work is must, The Socialite has a hard time distinguishing between what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Perhaps in what can be a bit of a dark side to The Socialite, they can be very charming, often blinding & manipulating management and colleagues to their poor behaviour.
An employee with sociopathic tendencies leave a trail of destruction where ever they go, they poison the atmosphere and create a hostile environment for everyone else. Just 1 destructive employee can wreck the morale for the entire team, if placed in a customer facing role they can cause serious damage to your reputation & bottom line.
Karen Gately, the author of The People Managers Toolkit gives the following strategies on how to deal with coworkers you just don’t like;
Choose your attitude
The key to getting along with anyone lies in your ability to choose your attitude. Of course, their attitude matters also, but the reality is you can’t control other people. Focus on what you can control; that is your own thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
So many of us waste energy thinking and talking about people we don’t like. How often do you replay annoying events or conversations in your mind? Do you ‘roleplay’ scenarios in your mind about the conversations you intend to have with some people? Do you imagine yourself winning an argument with your nemesis? Do you allow your emotions to build as you invest in the drama unfolding in your mind?
We all have the power to choose the thoughts and emotions we invest in. The ability for anyone to offend us or drain our spirit entirely depends on our response.
Pick your battles
While of course it matters to stand up for ourselves when being mistreated, in many circumstance we can simply choose to ignore the things that otherwise upset us. We have the choice to simply walk away and disengage rather than wade into an argument. We can choose to let thoughtless comments or unintentionally offensive remarks ‘go through to the keeper’. Choosing for example to see someone’s words as ill-considered is healthier for our relationship with them, than assuming their actions are malicious.
Ask yourself if you are being unfairly judgmental. Sometimes the actions we see as wrong are simply different to the way we would approach things. Reflect on why you don’t like the person and challenge any unfounded assumptions or unconscious biases you may have. For example, the woman you perceive as being attention seeking, may be simply talkative and unaware that her enthusiast sharing of stories about her life is coming across as insufferable self-indulgence.
Look for ways in which you can build trust, respect and rapport. Common interests are a safe place to start. Find out things about the person you find interesting or respect. This can be particularly challenging with some people, but appreciate the good that can be found in most people and give credit where it is due.
Rapport can be built by finding common ground as well as by being empathetic. However, it’s important to understand that most rapport-building happens without words and through non-verbal communication channels. People build rapport subconsciously through non-verbal signals, including eye contact, facial expressions, body positioning and tone of voice.