How to Work with Someone You Really Don’t Like - Deepstash
How to Work with Someone You Really Don’t Like

How to Work with Someone You Really Don’t Like

Curated from: hbr.org

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Working with people with don't like

Working with people with don't like

At work, we’ve all seen how tense relationships can create conflict and negatively impact performance. Given that 70% of employees say that work friends are crucial to their happiness on the job, learning how to better navigate these tensions is a sound investment of your time. 

We’re complex social creatures with our own values and beliefs about how people should behave. We all have unconscious biases that determine how we think and feel about everything, from gender to race. Many of these biases have a significant impact on who we get along with and who we find difficult or annoying.

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Take a look at yourself

We can dislike someone without even knowing why, and then look for evidence to make ourselves right. This is known as confirmation or myside bias. 

But the most successful and happy people find healthy ways to work with personalities they wouldn’t otherwise choose to have in their life — professionally, socially, and within their own family. So, if you want that person in the office to be less obnoxious, or you want to stop feeling anxious whenever you have a meeting with them, you need to first take a look at yourself. 

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Be the grown-up

If someone is rude to you in a meeting, do you assume that they don’t like you, or do you remove yourself from the situation and consider that they could just be having a bad day?

Don’t succumb to childlike behaviors (getting thoughtlessly defensive or ignoring that person out of spite) and try to identify behaviors that will serve you (and them).

These include removing yourself from unproductive conversations, confronting someone respectfully and privately to discuss a problem before it grows, or setting clearer boundaries around your time and expectations.

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Respect people for what they bring to the table

Find what you can appreciate about the person you dislike; nearly everyone has strengths and skills that can be utilized. Maybe they’re really good at lateral thinking or have amazing attention to detail, or perhaps their strength is bringing humor to the room when people need it most.

Don’t dilute your own brand by being anything less than respectful to people who are different than yourself. The best employees recognize that diversity is key to solving difficult problems and innovating.

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Don’t focus on the negatives

If you’re holding a grudge against someone, expecting them to be late to meetings or to miss deadlines, you’ll likely find the evidence you’re looking for. That’s your confirmation bias at play.

When someone annoys you, rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong, think about how you’re reacting. Be aware of your triggers, writing down what you’re reacting to and why. Once you know what’s triggering you, you can decide if it’s something you can let go of, or if it’s something you need to address with the person in a well-thought-through conversation.

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Try to connect

Look for the good in this person and try to initiate positive conversations with them about topics you can both contribute to, such as project achievements and organizational successes. 

Try to differentiate between the person and their behaviors. By focusing on the person and identifying a trait that you both value, like trust, you’ll be less inclined to dwell on the external behavior you dislike, such as their proclivity to interrupt. This will enable a more respectful and harmonious relationship.

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Be strategic

Perhaps you need to change the way you’re working with the person you dislike, whether by spending more time helping them build a skill, connecting them with others in the organization, or giving them meaningful feedback on their work.

Focus on the things you can do to help them succeed, keeping in mind that their success is your success. Top of mind should be the organizational vision and what’s needed to get there. Invest time in making sure that the difficult person knows their role, has a sense of belonging, and is clear about what success looks like for everyone.

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Pick your battles

Getting along with difficult people is not the same as justifying or turning a blind eye to what is unacceptable, such as bullying or discrimination. But if they’re simply rubbing you up the wrong way, offering viewpoints that are different to your own, or holding fast to an issue that will dissipate over time, you should probably let it slide.

In the end, we so often feel the need to be right. That’s our egos at play. 

The key lies in being empathetic, looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective, and being curious rather than judgmental.

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Learning about conflict resolution, rapport-building, decision-making and teamwork.

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