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Why You Should Work With Someone You Hate

Forget your best friend. Working with someone who drives you crazy is more likely to help you achieve your dreams.
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When you think about founding your dream business, you might imagine working side-by-side with your best friend, or your spouse, or your sibling. You love spending time with this person. You feed off each other and have such great ideas. It will be awesome.

Or maybe not. Maybe what you should do is work with someone who drives you insane.

It works for Discovery Channel Mythbusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. They do, by all accounts, great work. But, they are not friends. They do not hang out together and, according to Adam, they drive each other crazy.

So, why does the relationship work? Because they respect each other. And that is the critical piece. If you respect someone you don't need to like them in order to have a successful working relationship. It can even be a benefit. Here's why.

You like different things, so you see different things. When your business interests and your outside interests are similar, you'll both focus on the same things. You'll see the same side of every problem. While this makes for pleasantries and warm and fuzzy feelings, it can also cause you to miss things--big things.

A partner, or an employee, whose viewpoint is different from yours will see things you cannot. She will see areas that you are weak in and you will see areas where she is weak. You will see different things and this is beneficial.

You're not distracted by social lures. You don't stop working on a project to plan your weekend activities. Your relationship will be built around the business and the business only.

It's easier to terminate a relationship. I have received numerous emails from people who desperately want to leave the family business, or who no longer want to work for their best friend, but cannot because they are terrified of damaging the relationship. Likewise, I've received emails from people whose best friend is not doing a good job, and they want to fire and replace that person, but won't go through with it.

If your relationship is purely business, if it's not working out, it's easier to part ways. If your partner wants to take on a new job, you say, "Great idea! I wish you the best of luck!" and there is no angst over it.

While this may seem like a silly, little, thing, the stress reduction from having purely business relationships is tremendous.

Smart is better than yes. You need to surround yourself with smart people. People with great ideas. Not necessarily with people who you'd like to go to lunch with. Great ideas can come from all sorts of people. Someone who challenges you makes you think harder. Someone who will say, "But..." and will point out the flaws that you'd otherwise overlook.

Respect is key. If you are so annoyed by this person that you are yelling, the business relationship won't work out. You must respect each other. You must be polite. You must listen to what the other person has to say. But, you don't need to be friends.

The next time you are looking to hire someone, or partner with someone, look for someone who has great ideas and thinks differently than you do. In fact, you may wish to look for someone who, like Jamie Hyneman does to Adam Savage, drives you nuts. If you are as successful as they are, you'll be off to a great start.

IMAGE: UpperCut Images/Getty
Last updated: Feb 6, 2013

SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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