Inevitably, there will be individuals throughout your professional career with whom you have difficulty working. This isn’t limited to the workplace, though. It’s simply a fact that in most areas of life, you will interact with people that you simply don’t like. The true test of character is how you treat such people and cope with their presence, especially in the workplace. While under the scrutiny of your boss and fellow coworkers, the way you work with someone you’re not fond of can reflect very well or very poorly on your overall professionalism.
A simple thing to keep in mind is that the workplace is a space for working. It is a professional atmosphere where progress must be made in order for the company to move forward. If your focus remains on your job and the specific tasks in front of you, you may find that you have little time to be frustrated by fellow employees. And if you desperately need to vent about the person in the next cubicle over, go out for drinks with your friends after work and use that space for expressing your frustration. While in the workplace, find creative ways to manage your emotional responses towards coworkers such as using a stress ball or taking breaks during the day to walk around and get fresh air.
Be aware of onlookers. No matter your position within a company, your coworkers and boss are paying attention to your conduct. Your coworkers will quickly asses if you’re an office gossip or not, and your boss will be able to determine if you’re easily enticed or provoked. Conduct yourself with this scrutiny in mind. Treating frustrating coworkers poorly will reflect poorly with your boss. On top of that, coworkers who see inappropriate responses to others may be encouraged to repeat the behavior and aggravate the cycle.
Set social and professional standards for yourself in the workplace. What do you believe is socially acceptable and socially unacceptable to do at work? Will you clip your fingernails at your desk? Will you eat overly smelly foods for lunch from your cubicle? If you maintain a certain amount of decorum at work for yourself most individuals will respect this, and it may encourage other individuals to observe the same practices. At the very least, you can make sure that your conduct is irreprehensible, leaving little for a difficult coworker to blame you for or comment unkindly upon.
In certain events, it may be necessary to escalate a difficult situation to a superior, but exercise this option with caution. Unless the topic is sensitive or personal, it is probably best to settle inter-cubicle issues between the coworker in question and yourself without getting your superior involved. In the event that their activity is disturbing your productivity, carefully document such cases and tactfully bring it to a manger or other supervisor. Be prepared with observations and proof about the coworker’s conduct and leave it in the hands of someone with more authority so that it may be addressed properly.
In the end, you can only be responsible for your own behavior, and you may have very little influence on the behavior of the people around you. In difficult situations, it is important to maintain the expectations of your boss and maintain your professional attitude.
How do you deal with working with people you dislike? How do you maintain a professional demeanor? Share with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by zeevveez
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