Work Relationships

How to deal with coworkers you don’t like

Written by Peter Jones

It can be unbearable having to go show up every day and see someone who drives you absolutely nuts. It can be even worse if major parts of your workday involve interacting with this person.

Before you reach a breaking point and say or do something you might regret, try a few of these helpful strategies instead. You can’t change someone’s personality, but you can find a healthy and productive way to deal.

Don’t badmouth to your coworkers.

Don’t let your hatred of this person spill into the rest of your work life or poison your other colleagues. This isn’t high school—it’s a workplace. Talking trash is a bad, immature look. Staying classy also means watching your body language, sighs, and eye rolls in that person’s presence. You might think you’re being subtle—or funny—but you’re not. Rudeness is never a good look.

Kill with kindness.

When in doubt, default to the most polite version of yourself. Fake it ’til you make it if you have to—acting sweet as pie might not come easy, but you’ll come across as professional. Try simple pleasantries: say hello or nod when passing them in the halls and say goodnight when leaving for the day. You can’t change someone, but you can change how you act around them and the energy you put into the world (and the workplace).

Have a heart to heart.

Some work antagonism is just due to a personality clash, which is hard to fix. But if have tension with someone because of one or two specific and heated incidents, that’s easier to fix. Your best bet is to hash it out. Ask your coworker to go to a quiet conference room, go for a walk, or have a cup of coffee. Bring up recent tensions and tell him or her you want to work together to move past them. Who knows, you could end up having a fruitful work relationship—even a friendly one—if this sort of gamble pays off. If it doesn’t? Ask yourself how much worse off you would be for giving it a try.

Don’t take it personally.

Some people are just not worth your energy. Your coworker could be just plain incompetent—or a huge jerk. Either way, it’s not about you and it’s not worth letting annoyance get in the way of your work and professional growth. Focus on being a good person and a valuable employee—that’s why you’re at work.

Think about all the energy you’re putting into hating this person. Or just being perpetually annoyed. Could you be doing something better with your time? Focus on yourself, your job, and the good you can do to counteract the rage this person drives you to! Remember, you can only control how you act. So act better. Every chance you get.

Remember: you don’t have to like everyone.

(And everyone doesn’t have to like you.) Sometimes you’re just going to run into people that you simply don’t quite jive with—it’s all part of being an adult. Vent at home to your loved ones if you must, then show up at the office every day, smile politely, and get your work done.

About the author

Peter Jones