4 Tips To Working With A Co-Worker You Just Don’t Like

by Angel McNeil, Contributing Writer

young-black-professionals

Group work is an inevitable part of our professional lives. One of the hardest facets of group work is working with someone who you just don’t want to work with. Whether their personality and work ethic are the opposite of yours or they don’t have the best reputation, the fact of the matter is we sometimes can’t get around working with that one co-worker we’d rather not interact with. #thatslife

For your Happy Monday dish, here are four tips to make that experience as enjoyable as possible- and maybe even start to build a professional relationship. Deep breath….

1. Set Boundaries and Expectations

office-bully-womanI can admit that I am not an expert on setting boundaries. Over the years, I have seen first hand how failing to set boundaries can cause stress and tension. People should know what they will and will not tolerate and be able to communicate that in some form. I suggest from the start of your working relationship that you find a way to discuss these facets with your co-worker and team. If you don’t feel that you will be able to have a full-blown conversation with someone find ways to share or address your boundaries as the need arises. Maybe try always having a third party present, such as a co-worker you both like to break the awkwardness. Or when you meet one-on-one, make sure you always follow up via email. Never let anything go without follow up. Paper trails are key.

2. Try to find common ground

Call me crazy but I believe that everyone has something they can find in common with someone else. Whether it is sports, children, or a shared addiction to Scandal, there is one thing that we can find we share with the other person. There have been times when I have been able to turn an intolerable relationship into a decent one by taking a black-girl-officefew minutes to discuss something that we had in common. Commonalities can help put you and the other person at ease and possibly dissipate any tensions that will build.

3. Find the Right Time

In my last post I talked about finding the right time to talk to your boss. It is just as important to find the right time to meet and interact with your colleagues. If you know that you are extra irritable right before lunch, chances are scheduling working time then isn’t ideal. Do yourself a huge favor and build into your schedule a time when you are fresh and mentally capable of dealing with that person. Trust me, peace of mind is everything.

4. Take a breather

woman-prayingThis was essential for me when I had to work closely with someone on a high stakes project. Our personalities didn’t mesh well together and it’s sometimes hard to take five minutes in cases where you are required to spend so much time together. However, you have to to know when you are reaching that breaking point and need to walk away. It doesn’t have to be for very long. Maybe take a quick walk around the block or go fill up on your coffee. But I have found that it is key to just regroup and come back to what you are doing. It prevents a potential breakdown and allows you time to get your mind right.

Hope this is helpful! Tell us how you keep calm and carry on.

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