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How to work with people you dislike

Ordered from the worst option to the best option:

Don’t work with them. If all else fails, try finding another project or another job.

Limit your work relationship. Focus on the work and be extra careful in your communications to make sure your dislike does not show, and that your work still gets done.

Finally, my favorite option:

Find something that you like about the person. Please, just stop disliking them. I’ve worked with thousands of people and I can hardly think of anyone that I actively dislike. It’s almost impossible for me to not be able to find something that I like about a person. Once I do, I focus on that. You should do the same.

If you think that you need to agree with someone on everything or even most things in life to like them, you’re setting yourself up for a very disappointing life.

Related to this point is the power of forgiveness and the apology. I forgive everyone that is sorry for the mistake they made. Why don’t you? What do you possibly have to gain by not forgiving? What logical or theological reason could you have for not forgiving someone for something they are genuinely sorry for?

Related to that, if you are guilty of a mistake, apologize early and often. Trust me, it’s important. People remember if you do or don’t apologize for your mistakes. I know I do.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

It’s all about perception. You can go on and on spinning in your mind about a person – and over time that neuropath gets ingrained in your brain and you start operating out of that script even if the individuals does a 180 change.

So why not, like you said, do the 180 change in your own mind (i.e. forgiveness is a big factor) and find ways to focus on their strengths, build a working relationship and make significant improvements to your own attitude and attributes in the process?

One final note: apologies might appear to be weakness – like there’s blood in the water around a victim of failure. But it’s then that you have to be humble and courageous and step out in faith that your forthright admission of a flaw will lead to admiration vs. denigration.

Bill Brantley

For most cases of working with people you dislike, your last two points are good. I would also add that having a honest talk where you recognize that you and the other person will agree to disagree but will work professionally together to achieve the shared mission is also a good tactic.

Even so, I fear that your advice will not work when you have an actual workplace bully. When someone is intent on making your life miserable, you need to defend yourself first. Workplace bullying is a real work issue that needs a concentrated effort from all levels of the organization to prevent.

Jaime Gracia

Don’t do anything that is self-destructive. Always stay above the fray, let them destroy themselves, and maintain professionalism all times. This is very important when the other person is incapable or unwilling to work with you productively.

Getting into the muck is not going to work. Remember the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who stated, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Although I prefer Andy’s comment about perceptions, sometimes it is better to move on, and learn from the mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are from within, and resulted in how people perceived you, not them.

Sonja Newcombe

I totally agree with the previous comments, During my career i’ve had very few negative feeling toward others. I normall get along with everyone, if there is personalities conflicts such as (bullying). I politely let them know in a postive manner i wont be bullied. This is a place of business and taxpayer aren’t paying us to create a emotional mine field for coworkers. We should bring our emotional baggage to work. My son tell me ( Life a box of chocolates) you never know what u will get…lol