Whether it’s a client, vendor, colleague or boss, at some point you will have to work with someone you dislike. In a perfect world we’d be able to pick and choose who we worked with or for, but we don’t live in a perfect world and whether you are a business owner or an employee, you will have to engage with a variety of people, some of whom you will dislike.  You aren’t going to get along with everyone, but to be successful, you will need to figure out a way work with everyone.  Here are 4 tactics to help you work with people you don’t like.

Don’t Take it Personal

There they are, either consistently rude or dismissive towards you or others or always trying to take credit for someone else’s work – whatever it is – you just can’t stand to be around them much less work with them.  So what should you do? Take the emotion out of it and purpose to not take it personally.  People often behave the way they were socialized – the sum of how they were raised; how they’ve been treated in the past; and the dynamics of previous roles.  So most times when you’re dealing with this type of “unlikable” individual it’s not really about you – but more so about them.   Learn to recognize when your emotions are rising, but don’t let them get the best of you or allow yourself to be consumed by your dislike for them such that you lose focus.  Instead, be proactive not reactive.  Understand your propensity to respond emotionally and instead learn to cultivate a diplomatic poker face.  When you maintain a consistent level of decorum when interacting with those you dislike it’ll make it easier to figure out a way to work with each other.

Attempt to Break Down Barriers

There’s an old saying “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”.  Let’s face it, the people you get along with will find ways to help you; the people you don’t get along with will find ways to obstruct you.  With that said, it’s to your benefit to not have an adversarial relationship with those you must work with.  So when you have to work with someone that you don’t like, try connecting with them on a personal level by finding something that you both like or have in common.  Finding some point of commonality whether through sport, kids or a shared interest in music can help break down barriers.  By getting to know them a little better you’ll either find something you’ll like about them or they may start to like you and go out of their way to help you accomplish your goals.  Either way, it’s better than being at war with someone and not being able to get done what you need to get done.

Focus on the business at hand

You are there to do a job, and so are they –  so put your energy towards what needs to occur to achieve your business results. At the end of the day you are there to work with them not socialize with them.  You don’t have to like each other to have a successful work relationship.  Ask yourself, what is the outcome that you need to achieve and what role do they play in getting you there. Focus on that end-result and put the personal aside.  That doesn’t mean that you ignore the person or disregard how they make you feel.  It’s more about keeping the bigger picture in mind and choosing your battles.  So, if what you don’t like about them doesn’t impede them from performing professionally, put the personal aside and focus on the task at hand – getting the work done.


Give yourself permission to not like someone.  Sometimes simply removing the pressure to like someone that you clearly have conflict with can alleviate some of the stress of working with them.  Come to terms with the fact that we aren’t going to like everyone we work with or do business with, and that’s okay.  Acknowledging that without judging whether someone is a good person or not, can remove the obstacles that often accompany difficult business relationships.  Focus on the things  that you can control.  Remember, you can’t change who they are as people, but you can control your own attitude and how you respond to the people who rub you the wrong way.

Unfortunately, you can’t always pick the people with whom you work.  But you can work with (almost) anyone if you just keep these tactics in mind.

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