No matter what career field you’re in, you’ve had to deal with the very real struggle of getting along with coworkers you dislike. Even if you’re just starting your first job and are optimistic and ready to please, there will be people you’ll eventually dislike or people that dislike you. It’s part of being human; we’re all different, with different goals, values, and personalities. There is no way you’ll be friends or get along with everyone. But, before letting it get to you and causing you to make a mistake or comment that costs you your job, here are some tips to get you through!
- Respect your coworkers. Yes, even the ones you despise! It may be tough and something you’ll have to regularly work at, but it can make a big difference in having smooth working relationships. Even if you don’t like their personality, consider what good traits they might have or concentrate on what they do well in their position. It’s possible to show anyone respect, as long as you think before you act in certain situations. If a coworker says something incorrect, of course you shouldn’t stay silent; but when you correct them, go with the assumption that they didn’t have the most up to date information or that they didn’t completely understand the task.
- Be mindful of workplace etiquette. Sticking to etiquette guidelines can help you deal with a coworker you’re not on friendly terms with. The best way to get along with coworkers is to be as professional as possible. You may intensely dislike them, but if you start ignoring office guidelines to get back at them, you become the problem and can jeopardize your own position and standing with your supervisors. Be on time to meetings, don’t have loud conversations to purposely annoy your coworker-enemy, don’t spread malicious gossip about them. You don’t need to be friendly and invite them to happy hour with your friends, but keeping things professional and courteous will make the time you have to spend with that person a lot easier.
- Separate your personal and professional lives. I think everyone says “leave your personal stuff at the door” when you walk into work. It may be a cliche piece of advice, but it’s something you need to attempt to follow as much as possible. This usually means that if you’re having personal problems at home, don’t let it distract you from your work and the tasks that need to be completed. But I also think this could refer to how you feel about coworkers. Maybe someone you work with is an old high school enemy of yours. You can’t bring that angst and rivalry into the office, so leave those feelings behind when you walk in the door. Don’t let your personal feelings about someone interfere with your work. You’re only harming your own career.
Realistically, you’re never going to love everyone you work with, no matter how easy going you are. There will be people you disagree with politically or morally. We’re all different and no one expects you to become friends with every single person you work with. On the other hand, if you dislike a coworker because of something they’ve done wrong at work, you may need to consider bringing it up with your HR department. Sexual harassment, stealing, or not showing up isn’t something for you to deal with. You shouldn’t be lecturing a coworker about how unprofessional they are. Save that for the experts and save your workplace credibility by being as polite and professional as possible. And if you’re not sure where to start, consider taking a soft skills course to help you deal with those annoying coworkers!