3 steps to working with people you dislike

Soft SkillsWill Rogers said he never met a man he didn’t like.

For the rest of us, well, you know you have. And when you are stuck working with people you dislike day in and day out, all bets are off.

Well-trained managers with good intentions know better than to let personal feelings get in the way of creating engaged work relationships.  It is something drilled into us from Day One.

Yet managers are human, too. And so sometimes dislikes get the best of us. Then things bubble to the surface that we later regret. (If you’re lucky it only bubbles, rather than erupts.)

I Dare You
So, how do you get the job done without letting personal feelings cause trouble when you are working with people you dislike?

Whether due to a rigid ego and pride, contrasting personalities, or polarizing opinions, these can be special situations that will challenge all your skills — as well as your sensibilities.

I recently came across three very useful idea to consider when you are struggling to unravel an emotionally difficult work relationship. Here they are.

Is it you?

Employees dislike abusive bosses. But guess what? Good employees dislike incompetent, disorganized managers even more.

In fact, mismanagement may be the biggest threat to an employee’s ability to work with dignity.

Ohio State University professor Randy Hodson analyzed more than 100 studies of contemporary workplaces and found an unusually strong connection between mismanagement and negative employee actions and sentiment.

“Nobody likes abuse, but employees can find ways to work around abusive managers,” Hodson writes.

“But employees don’t want to be involved with chaotic, mismanaged workplaces where nothing gets done well and people feel like they can’t be effective.”

Is it possible your own organizational skills are causing discontent?

Empathy isn’t agreement

In an article titled 4 Reasons Humans Will Never Understand Each Other the author argues that trying to understand someone isn’t the same as agreeing with them.

“Somehow the idea has taken hold that understanding somebody you hate only benefits them, as if the only end goal is to be more sympathetic to (your enemy.) Some people think that it’s really about giving the awful people a chance to convince us they’re not so bad.”

Smartly, the column concludes that “understanding is just about gaining knowledge. Once you’ve gained that knowledge, you can decide what to do with it. “

Be the ball

It often said the fastest path to understanding is to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

But not so fast.

The same article on cracked.com says  “Isn’t that exactly what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t it a good thing?”

The problem … is it only gets you halfway there. Too often you put yourself in someone else’s shoes — but you stay you. You continue to analyze their situation from your own perspective.

In other words, you quantum leap yourself into someone else’s situation with all your knowledge and emotional resources.
When we do that, we tend to come to very different conclusions than the person because we aren’t being them.

People in different employment situations aren’t just basically you, in a different zip code, with a crappier attitude.

Empathizing with that difficult person you are bumping heads with takes real work. You must be the ball.

But if it is a difficult relationship you need to resolve, one that is not going to go away, then it is work worth doing.

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