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What to Do When You Are Scheduled to Work With Someone You Don’t Like

Grin and bear it. We’ve all had to force ourselves to get along with a co-worker we don’t like but have to work alongside. It may be the person is overbearing or just somehow rubs you the wrong way; no matter what the problem is, you like the job and want to do the work. How should you handle yourself when scheduled to work with someone you just don’t like?

Remember This One Thing First

The number one rule of thumb here is you don’t have to like everyone. There are going to be people that do not like you. There are going to be people you do not like. People have specific preferences on what to eat and how to dress, so why shouldn’t they have preferences for the people they like or dislike? It makes sense from this perspective but doesn’t help you when you’re working elbow to elbow with someone that makes your tension levels elevate.

So, recognize the reason for your added anxiety, then take a breath and remember this one thing; you don’t have to act on these feelings. Treating everyone professionally and respectfully does not mean you have to like them. One thing you don’t want to do is gossip behind that person’s back. While it may feel like a way to bond with other co-workers, it will ultimately make you look and feel bad. Instead, if you’re having an issue with the co-worker and it’s bothering you that much, try addressing it without emotion, clearly – and respectfully.

For example, if your co-worker constantly interrupts you, what would happen if you simply addressed the issue by asking them to please stop? Try to be as specific as possible; you could say something like, “I notice when I start talking, you tend to interrupt and talk over me. Is there a way we can work on that a little so I feel like my opinions are being heard?”

There’s no excuse or reason to act rudely or be angry. This is business and you should treat it as such. If necessary, a manager would probably be willing to sit in on a discussion between the two of you. But before the situation escalates, why not just discuss whatever the issue is between you and the co-worker?

Or, use the old cliché that, in this case, is perfect: Kill them with kindness. This will not be the first or last time you work a shift with a co-worker that is lazy or obnoxious or just seems like fingernails on a chalkboard. Working on a team is about putting aside your differences to complete the job at hand. Even the best teams have conflict; your mission is to not let those conflicts overpower your effort to do good work.

Working with someone you don’t like is a normal part of the business world. The truth is just like the old cliché: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Treating your (annoying) colleague with respect over frustration and de-escalating whenever possible, will help the shift go more smoothly. Remember that your teammate may be able to help you do the job, so make an effort and grin and bear it.

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