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3 Ways to Get Along With Your Least Favorite Co-Workers

Don't burn your bridges, the advice goes. There's just one problem: over the course of a career, even the most cautious and honorable professional is bound to leave a few behind them. So what can you do to rebuild a relationship, once it's damaged?

Don’t burn your bridges, the advice goes. There’s just one problem: over the course of a career, even the most cautious and honorable professional is bound to leave a few behind them. So what can you do to rebuild a relationship, once it’s damaged?

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(Photo Credit: national_library_of_norway/Flickr)

1. Take responsibility.

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“[R]ecognize your own culpability,” writes Dorie Clark at Harvard Business Review Blog Network. “It’s easy to demonize your colleague (He turned in the report late! She’s always leaving work early!). But you’re almost certainly contributing to the dynamic in some way, as well.”

Focus on the need to repair the relationship, not assign blame. Finger-pointing might be momentarily satisfying, but it won’t get you closer to your professional goals.

2. Visualize a professional partnership.

You don’t need to be best friends with everyone you work with. All you need to do is to get things to a functional place where your previous problems with this person don’t negatively impact either of you at work. Focus on that, and it will be easier to move past the occasional recurring glitch.

3. Put yourself in their shoes.

“Always remember that bad behavior comes from fear or insecurity,” writes Erik Lauber at CIO. “We’re all worried that other people won’t like us or are out to get us, and we’re all afraid that bad things will unexpectedly come our way.”

If you can empathize with your co-workers, even when they’re driving crazy, you stand a much better or repairing your relationships with them, or perhaps even avoiding major rifts to begin with.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever had a falling out with a colleague? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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9 Comments on "3 Ways to Get Along With Your Least Favorite Co-Workers"

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Candy
Guest

My coworker is so vindictive, you cannot say anything to her because she always has an answer whether it applies to her or not . The company is very small and she has crossed at least 85% of the entire staff.

Danielle
Guest
Thank you Virgina A for your comments. However, I don’t think you read all rest of my post or skipped over the part where I said I did put myself in their shoes. For the first 6 months I thought that if I was nicer and more aware of their needs then the gossiping and backstabbing would disappear. Unfortunately my desired result did not happen. Later, I was told by management that I was too accommodating. After two long years of the torture they inflicted, the two co-workers were let go. Management informed me that jealously was the cause for… Read more »
Ms Anonymous
Guest
I’m very tolerant and yes most of my co-workers can be overbearing. I don’t like sharing too much info and when they gossip, I just let them talk but do not like to comment because if they are capable of talking about others to me, then I feel like it’ll be just as easy for them to speak about me behind mine. However, there’s this one that I do avoid as much as possible because of her (bipolar) personality. Again, I’m very tolerant because I believe one’s (ethnical) background plays a role too, but the high & lows mood swings… Read more »
Virginia A
Guest
Danielle, the suggestion you took offense to wont necessarily apply in all situations. There could be several reasons why your colleagues reacted to your promotion – congratulations by the way. Promotion is wonderful when the recipient is ready to move up and accept new challenges. Try this on and consider whether your colleagues felt that your behaviour changed as a result and therefore changed the dynamic of the relationship. Doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in the wrong, but trying to understand how they are feeling as a result of that change, rather than simply stating that they are jealous,… Read more »
Gail J
Guest
Currently, I am working at a second career, but working for over 30 years in the industry, I have found that the best way to get along with co-workers is to recognize similar behaviors in a friend or family member and then to think how you would treat the co-worker if they were your friend or family member. At the very least, you should already have some experience working with a similar behavior. Also, I think it is a good idea to always take responsibility for any problem that are within your control. If you own the problem then you… Read more »
Dee
Guest

Feeble and next to useless. Don’t know why someone would write such elementary drivel.

Danielle
Guest
I’ve definitely have had to visualize a professional partnership and think about my career LONG TERM (my key strategy) in order to keep me from responding badly to my co-workers’ unprofessional behavior. As well as putting myself in their shoes. That one helped me understand why they were doing what they were doing. However, I was offended by the statement in #1 “But you’re almost certainly contributing to the dynamic in some way, as well.” How am I contributing when my co-worker’s jealousy of me and am I supposed to take responsibility for that? I got promoted and two of… Read more »
Colleen L.
Guest

I think this is wonderful advice. I was working for a temporary agency and struggled through a relationship with a boss that I was contracted to work for. I simply need to change how I address issues in the work place and take responsibility for making comments about this boss that — though true — were not flattering. It is a VERY bad habit to talk about co-workers!!!

Colleen L.
Guest

I think this is wonderful advice. I was working for a temporary agency and struggled through a relationship with a boss that I was contracted to work for. I simply need to change how I address issues in the work place and take responsibility for making comments about this boss that — though true — were not flattering. It is a VERY bad habit to talk about co-workers!!!

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