When You Don’t Like Your Coworker

February 25th, 2013


It may be one of the biggest obstacles in life – working closely with someone whom you don’t get along with. It may be a coworker, a supervisor, or a boss. Unfortunately, you can’t just turn the other cheek. You have to address the situation, adapt to it, and make it work. Here are some rules for forging relationship with people you – plain and simple – don’t like:

 1. Keep it to yourself.

There’s no need to create drama at work by gossiping behind someone’s back. It will make things extremely complicated and potentially irreparable if they find out.

2. Break it down.

People might not mesh well at work for many reasons including different communication styles, different work ethics, or general annoyances. Find what exactly is bugging you about this person.

3. Disregard the little stuff.

If you don’t like that your coworker talks about herself too much, talks on the phone too loudly, or smacks her gum, you might be out of luck. Your best bet is to approach your supervisor and ask her to send out a general memo asking everyone to be respectful and considerate of other people’s time and space.

 4. Make an adjustment.

If you realize that the two of you have different communication styles, try to adapt. Approach your coworker with information in a new way that’s more fitting to her style. Write it down if she’s forgetful. Speak more gently if she’s defensive.

 5. Take it face-to-face.

If you have different work ethics, try addressing the situation politely. If your coworker’s late arrivals are placing extra work on your back, try saying, “This morning I had to cover for you until you arrived, and it’s really putting added stress in my day.” Then wait for the apologies to flow.

If the problem persists after you’ve followed these five steps, you may need to take it to a supervisor for guidance. But keep a level head and know that change doesn’t happen overnight.

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