How To Work With People You Don’t Like

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Focusing on what you control is the best way to work with people you don’t like.

For the most part, people like working with co-workers.

One survey found that 60.6% of people like the people they work with.

It’s one of the reasons people are happy at work along with interest in their work.

If you’re not interested in your work then you’re in trouble. You’re probably one of the many people that are unhappy in the office.

The same is true if you work with people you don’t like.

That’s the topic of the post today: getting along with co-workers.

Cause Of Conflict

Causes of conflict at work can vary.

Sometimes the conflict occurs because of personality clashes between two people. They have different views about the world and life.

Other times the conflict results from different workplace expectations. One person may want to do something a certain way by a certain time while another has a different idea about the situation.

Miscommunication can also be a source of conflict. This obviously comes in many forms. One person may wrongly interpret information about another person leading to incorrect judgment. Maybe a deadline is missed leading to anger, but it may result from miscommunication.

Results Of Conflict

If you’ve worked somewhere with conflict, especially if you don’t get along with someone or with multiple people, you likely have experienced the ill effects.

Insomnia is a common result of conflict in the workplace. Other health issues are common. Projects are delayed or remain incomplete. Work productivity decreases. Quality of work declines. And more.

It’s all bad.

However, harnessed the right way, conflict can lead to success in an organization. But it appears to be a fine balance.

And dealing with conflict, like a person you don’t get along with, begins with what you control.

Focus On Your Control

This is kind of a general life lesson. There is lots of information about it out there. Books. Articles. Blog posts. Studies. Tons.

I’ve tried to live life this way to some success. I still creep into the areas of worrying about what I can’t control, but there has been some improvement.

When it relates to working with someone you don’t like – coworkers, vendors, clients, etc. – it’s important because it’s easy to fall into the trap of just blaming the other person and getting stuck in a rut.

It’s really easy to fall into the I Wish & They Should trap.

Examples you’ve probably heard around the water cooler include:

I wish Stan would just be more responsive with his email

Susie should really take time to read all the directions.

That thinking is not productive. It’s not going to resolve anything.

Here are some tips for working with someone you don’t like…

Tip #1. Ask Questions

The big thing with conflict in the workplace seemed to be miscommunication. So a good place to start when you’re not getting along with someone is to ask questions.

I would start by asking yourself some questions about the relationship.

What am I doing to possibly cause this situation?

Why is the other person acting this way?

Go deep into questions like this. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and figure out what’s going on in their life and at work. What is making them stressed and how can you change what you’re doing to improve the situation?

When you start asking questions you’ll often figure out what’s motivating you and the other person. If you can find a way to align your motivations then perhaps you can work together effectively instead of trying to bring each other down.

You can ask yourself questions and figure things out on your own, but also look to speak with others. Talk to other co-workers and talk to the person you’re having conflict with.

Go into it with curiosity. You’re looking to ask questions and learn and not to judge and make statements.

Tip #2. Avoid

If the questions doesn’t work – and that’s certainly possible – then the next avenue is to avoid the situation.

If you love your job, but can’t work with one or two specific people then look for how you can fit into the company without having to work with these individuals.

It could mean moving to a different department or taking on a different role in your current department.

Chances are your boss doesn’t want there to be unhealthy conflict in the office. But your boss may not realize what’s going on with you and the other person.

If you go to your boss and discuss the situation and go in with an idea of how you can contribute to the company, but in a different way or in a different role the boss will likely be open to the idea.

And avoiding could be something simple.

Avoiding that person’s area of the office. Avoiding their email correspondence. Avoiding meetings in the break room. Avoiding hot topics that raise issues like politics.

Tip #3. Quit

Finally, it might be time to just quit.

If something is really bad with you and another person then looking for a way out is probably best. Even if the person is a great worker it might be time to let them go. Their skill may contribute to the company, but if they’re bringing others down then it’s probably a net loss for your company.

If a client brings you a lot of revenue, but you can’t stand working with them it’s probably negatively affecting your company and your well being. Quitting them and looking for clients that are a better fit is better for you in the long run.

And if a situation is just bad between you and a coworker and you’ve exhausted all options then maybe it’s time to just leave and look for other work.

Opportunities exist in the workplace. It depends on how you look at it. We often get wrapped up in loving our jobs and some jobs certainly are great.

But other options always exist.


Workplace conflict is often a big issue. It’s common to have to work with people you don’t like.

Most times you can make it work. You can figure out where your motivations align and you can figure out a way to coexist.

Focus on what you control in the situation. Don’t get caught in the I Wish & They Should trap.

Make changes that you control to better the situation. And if all else fails see if there is better opportunity available.

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