Working with someone you don’t like can make your day-to-day office life pretty unpleasant. Whether that person is a constant complainer, a negative nelly or just plain rude, your daily interactions can cause anxiety and ultimately affect your on-the-job performance. The good news is that there are strategies you can employ to make the situation more tolerable and to ensure that you can still have a productive working relationship with your co-worker.
Manage your reaction to the offending behavior. We can’t control other peoople, but we can control our reaction to their behavior. It is more productive and practical to focus on your own response to what rubs you the wrong away than to fight against their behavior. Once you figure out what sets you off, practice a relaxation method before you react. Proven methods include deep breathing and counting slowly to 10.
Consider whether you are contributing to the problem. Once you have successfully learned how to control your reactions to the offending behavior, it’s time to explore why this person drives you nuts. Do they remind of your demanding mother, your bossy older sister, or are they just different from you? Try to put yourself in their shoes and see their perspective. Doing this may allow you to develop empathy for them. By better understanding what is bothering you, you may also be able to see your role in the relationship. Every conflict has two sides. What might their perspective be on the situation? Be honest with yourself about your share of the issue.
Discuss the situation with them. This can be a tricky one, and needs to be handled delicately. Oftentimes people don’t realize how they might come across to others. What may seem to be a brusque tone to you could be meant as “efficient” from them. Chose a time where there is no active conflict and sit down and discuss your issue calmly and rationally. This can help defuse the situation and help you both to communicate more effectively. Be prepared to hear some criticism back.
—Pamela Weinberg, Career Coach