Working With People You Don’t Like

Below we’ll explore ways of getting along with people you don’t like in more depth, but one sure fire way is to spend time with the person in an informal way. Even though this might not sound like something you’d enjoy the best way to get to know someone is by sharing a meal or a team build. Intundla Conference Centre near Gauteng offers a variety of products and facilities that will help you solve problems at the workplace and overcome obstacles to make your team more productive.

Most people will at some point in their careers have to deal with the unpleasantness of working with someone they don’t get along with. This could be your boss, a fellow colleague, a client or a consultant. Situations like these can be very stressful and counterproductive, zapping you of energy and joy.

Let’s look at some strategies for overcoming a very difficult, sometimes delicate but very real issue in most work places.


“What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.”  – Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), French Writer.

This is often the first step towards working with people we don’t like in a way that’s not only productive but might even open up doors to opportunities we would otherwise have missed. We are all different people with varied personalities and behaviours, an array of cultural backgrounds, etc. Try keeping an open mind when dealing with people and give them the same amount of respect that you would like to receive.

Find a confidant outside of work

The first thing we normally do when a colleague gets on our nerves is to find someone that will agree with our aggravations and help in slandering the person’s bad habits. Rather than gossiping about this person at work find someone outside of the workplace that you trust to discuss the situation with, someone that can be objective and give you sound advice.

Be in control of your emotions

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. Empathy and walking in someone else’s shoes will make it easier to understand the other person, maybe they are having a hard time at home or struggling with health issues or have a worry or concern you’re not aware of. Studying people and getting insight into the games people play to get their own will also clarify why someone behaves the way they do. We all manipulate others to a certain degree at times; the secret is to know when you’re being manipulated and how to turn the tables for the good of both parties.

Other ways of staying in control is to practise deep breathing exercises when you know someone gets you hot under the collar. Meditation and exercise will also help you to be more in control of your emotions in general, which will assist in bad situations.

Connect and engage

As mentioned above one of the best ways to get along with people is to get to know them better. Find common ground, you might surprise yourself and begin to like the person. Celebrate each other’s differences and focus on things that you like or respect about the other person, e.g. they might be meticulous with time and be well disciplined, and they might have a great sense of humour or be very effective in time management. This could be hard at first but will be well worth it in the end. It could even become one of your greatest assets – the ability to always find the good in others!

Sit down and talk about it

Discussing it will be the most difficult of tactics and you have to be careful in your approach. Be aware of the dynamics between you and always be respectful in your attitude. Stay calm and tackle the problem systematically. Start by acknowledging the tension and be specific about behaviour that is causing it. Use examples of situations if possible and explain how this makes you feel. Be prepared to listen to the other person’s perspective without interrupting them and stay open minded to suggestions of how to resolve this. Offer your willingness and determination to build a better relationship.

No great relationship comes without hard work and will power and very few relationships will not thrive when giving it your positive attitude and kindness.

The highest result of education is tolerance. – Helen Keller

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It’s not you it’s your Bad Habits and Blind Spots that are holding you back

In a working environment too many bad habits and blind spots can seriously hinder your success. You don’t need a whole list of these as it only takes a few left unchecked and allowed to accumulate to really annoy your colleagues. To succeed you need to recognise your faults and practice corrective behaviour. With focus and dedication the corrective behaviour will become second nature and ultimately replace the instinctive bad habit or blind spot.

There is a difference between a bad habit and blind spot. A bad habit is a conscious decision to handle a given situation in a certain way.  The application of this course of action is predictable, consistent and driven by a predetermined attitude that has a negative component. A blind spot is an automatic reaction to a given situation that is also predictable and consistent. The main difference is that the bad habit is recognised and acknowledged whereas the blind spot remains hidden.

We are aware of other people’s responses to situations and from our 3rd party perspective the error of their actions are blatantly obvious, but the person appears to be oblivious of the negative results.  Likewise your peers will observe your similar faulty behaviour and wonder how you don’t see that what you are doing is creating problems and potentially fatal to your career.

Blind spots are like the invisible cracks in your armour that weaken the structural integrity.

Avoidance behaviour  – Avoiding tackling the important tasks by finding distractions that waste your time. These distractions can be inventive, elaborate and even seem essential to work performance. The reality is that all jobs have their drawbacks and require tough or unpleasant actions. While it is natural to want to avoid uncomfortable situations the problem will generally escalate through neglecting to take action.

Team exclusion – A tendency to exclude others from your decision making processes and task handling can make you feel like you are in control and dynamic. For others in your team however, you will appear weak, untrusting and isolated. The lack of interaction and peer to peer communication in your team will undermine their enthusiasm, performance and support.

Venting or bottling – External stressors such as family issues, debt, legal problems and internal work related conflicts can create unnatural reactions in a pressured situation. In the case of venting the unrelated stress issues will cause an acute reaction that the present situation did not require. Bottling will create avoidance behaviour until the pressure cannot be contained and then the response will be an extreme over reaction.

Inward focussed – Some leadership styles and personality types are insensitive to the effect that their behaviour has on others. Persistent insensitivity will drain trust, cause people to feel unappreciated and reduce the team potential and contributions.

Bad habits are like the unsightly spot on your nose that constantly draws your attention.

Bad habits are not necessarily caused by an attitude problem they can also be a result of poor role models, tuition or leadership.  The key to discerning the cause of the bad habit is the body language and willingness to relearn the faulty behaviour.

Bad work habits are tardiness, inefficiency, surliness, time wasting, negativity, calling in sick when you are not, poor response to customers or superiors, bad communication skills, resistance to change, foot in mouth syndrome, lack of proper attention, etc.

No one likes to have their bad habits pointed out to them but to survive and improve we need to adapt. In the case of blind spots recognising that we actually have them is the first step of a long process of correction.

Team Building exercises are excellent way to help individuals discover their blind spots and bad habits. With the support of the team and a facilitator to introduce corrective actions the bad habits and blind spots can be overcome.

Talk to us to find out more about our Team Building options

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