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Dear Coworker, I Despise You: 3 Survival Tips For Coping With a Hateful Workplace

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/10/2015 Quora
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What is the best way to deal with co-workers you personally dislike? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

Answer by Mira Zaslove, Fortune 500 manager, on Quora:

Dealing with co-workers you personally dislike is, sadly, a common problem. The best way to deal with it is to ignore them and keep doing your job. Focus on yourself and your work rather than on people you dislike.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Don't talk badly about them.

You may not like somebody, but chances are someone likes them or they would not have been hired.

Also, the person you dislike may be good at their job. Some workplaces are more political than others, and some cultures can seem like popularity contests, but stay out of it!

Talking badly about someone you dislike will only make you look worse, and distract from your work. If you are in management (or want to be), you should be viewed as unbiased, and able to get along with people on the team.

Finally, people talk and likely it will get back to the person, which will only make your problem worse.

2. Don't engage with them.

If you can, move teams. Spend as little time with them as possible. It's exhausting and draining trying to work with someone you dislike, so minimize your interactions.

As a manager, a surprising amount of my time was spent dealing with co-workers who did not like each other for petty reasons. It's not a productive use of time or energy, especially if you loop in other people. So, be professional and if you must trash talk, do it with non-coworkers outside of work.

However, if this person crosses the line, engages in harassing or abusive behavior, or is seriously impeding your ability to do your job, document the issues. Go to HR -- keep your personal dislike out of it, and focus on the behavior that is hurting the company. Is this someone you dislike, or someone who is a true liability to the company?

3. Trick yourself into working well with them.

If you cannot get away from the person, and need to make it work, try to trick yourself.

There are a few ways you can do this. One is to do them a favor. Surprisingly, doing something for someone you dislike actually makes you like them a bit more due to cognitive dissonance. Basically, we strive for internal consistency and want our thoughts and actions to be consistent. It doesn't make sense to do something nice for someone we dislike, so we trick ourselves into thinking we actually do like them.

I actually tried this once, and it did work in the short term.

Finally, try to focus on the things you do like about this person. Perhaps they have nice kids, or like the same sports team you do. Whatever it is, just steer the conversation towards common interests, and getting work done, and away from the behavior you dislike.

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