Can You Work With Someone You Don’t Like?

coco & cowe

We recently attended a cool session hosted by Vitamin Water called Think Drink Do where we got to pitch business ideas, discuss growth and expansion and personal branding.  In one of the sessions a successful entrepreneur stated that she would, never again, work with someone she didn’t like.  She had been burned in the past and as a result, never, would she ever, work with someone she couldn’t see inviting to her home to share a meal.

I thought this was an interesting proposition and brought it to the table at a recent C&C meeting.  My first thought was unless you’re a massively successful business owner, how can you possibly control your colleagues?  Yes, the comment was made to budding entrepreneurs and small business owners, like myself, but even I don’t have that luxury.  Though I work very hard to control my environment and surround myself with like minded people, I can’t always control things like who comes on assignments, who I travel with and if the guy who prints all of my materials is the best in the biz but has a major attitude, I gotta deal.

“It’s a common problem — a 2012 study of more than 1,000 U.S. office workers by Wakefield Research found that around half of respondents cite trouble working with difficult colleagues, from know-it-alls to whiners to constant complainers. It’s hard to like people like that, especially if you’re sitting next to them for 8 hours a day.”

After more discussion we also realized how much potential growth & actual learning comes from working with people who you don’t instantly align.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an impression of someone and then I’ve worked with them more closely and have discovered how much I actually like them.  I’ve also learned many things about myself from tough work relationships like, what my limits are, how to set boundaries and am slowly learning how to say the ever difficult ‘no’.

So though at first blush, I would have agreed that I only want to work with people I love, working with friends can be equally challenging.  The reality is working with anyone can be trying, it’s work!

In an effort to not look at these problems as unresolvable I’ve scoured the web and some business books I have handy and came up with some ways to help manage difficult relationships:

1. Focus on the positive, how does the person contribute to the team in a helpful way?  Remind yourself of that every time you hear nails on a chalkboard instead of their voice as they talk.

2. Don’t take it personally.  I know this can be super tricky but business is business and it’s not the place to hold petty grudges.

3. Rely on logic rather than emotion.  By trying to see the whole picture rather than focusing on the minutia (like them cutting you off in the last meeting) you’re in a stronger position.

4. Avoid talking about them with other colleagues.  Gossip sucks, no matter how true you think it may be and all it does is adds fuel to the potential burning fire between you and your nemesis….

5. Your opinions are subjective and it’s pretty unprofessional and childish to let those get in the way of your success.  If your growth in your field depends on you being a team player and getting the job done, get it done.


What about you?  Can you only work with people you like?






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