Hate is a strong word. But sometimes you will likely have to work with people you have a hard time getting along with, and over time those feelings can grow into something strong enough to warrant the word.

Maybe they're untrustworthy, or lazy, or self-aggrandizing, or unaware of how their habits affect others. Maybe they just rub you the wrong way. Whatever the issue,  you may be feeling that the only way to make it better is to leave.

But if leaving isn't an option--or if you like your job and don't want to give it up--there are things you can do to cope.

Here are seven ways you can make life more bearable with a co-worker you despise:

If you can't change the situation, you have to learn to change yourself.

If you can't change the other person--and the odds are high that you can't--what you can do is to change yourself. Work to adopt a different attitude and mindset. Remember that leadership begins from within, and by developing the resources to deal with your frustration, you're building a valuable skill.

To get a solution you must first reframe the problem.

It's easy to recall all the things you dislike about your coworker, but instead work to reframe them by focusing on their good qualities. As a coach, when I help people navigate conflicts, I always have each person state a few things that they appreciate about the other. If you can come from a positive side and find something, however small, to feel good about, you'll be much better off.  

Let the things that irritate you lead to a better understanding of yourself.

When you have a strong reaction to someone else, psychology says that it might be projection or envy. When you realize you're totally irritated by something, take a moment to consider whether it might relate to something you dislike within yourself. What we hate in others is likely to be a reflection of our own worst qualities.

Remember that whatever you resist will follow you.

If you can't find a way to work through what you're feeling, chances are that you'll have to face the same issue down the road. The lessons we encounter in life tend to be repeated until we manage to truly learn and internalize them. It's human nature to resist these patterns--and the more important the issue, the more resistance we throw at it. But if you work through it now, you can save yourself a lot of trouble.

Be radically honest no matter how much you want to hide the truth.

Hating anyone burns up your emotional bandwidth and energy, keeping you from the things you need to do. Be honest and have a courageous conversation by being vulnerable about voicing your opinions. Much of the time, people are completely oblivious to how their behavior makes other people feel. Bringing their lousy behavior to their attention may open the door and change things for the better.

Treat feedback as a gift that you are given in the present.

When you confront someone, you also have to be prepared to listen to their side. Seek first to understand-pay attention to what is being said, taking in body language and tone as well as what's spoken, then respond, don't react.

Focus on inclusion because segregation has never brought anyone but trouble. 

When you really can't stand someone, don't think of segregating yourself from that person. Instead, find ways to include them in what you do. Find out more about the person, learn their story, and try to understand what drives them. You may find out you've been reading them all wrong.

These things are not easy to do--trust me, I know. When people come to me as a coach and ask how to handle a person they hate, they want a quick fix, but quick fixes aren't really fixes at all. If it's going to get better, we have to work harder.

In a perfect world, we'd get along perfectly in good relationships with all our co-workers. In reality, most of us spend at least some time working with someone we can't stand-- but there are always options to try and make things a little better.

Published on: May 10, 2018
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