How to Work With People You Don’t LikePeople like to do business with people they know, trust, and respect. This isn’t news. We spend most of our working hours with our clients, work colleagues, and vendors. Odds are, we’re not going to like everyone we work with. We don’t always have the luxury of choosing who we surround ourselves with.

You don’t have to be friends, but you do have to do business together. So what do you do? People will tell you to get over it, but that’s easier said than done. Because working with people who make you crazy or infuriate you causes stress and affects your productivity. And it’s also no fun.

Peter Bregman wrote about changing his attitude towards someone he really disliked in Harvard Business Review.

Taking the high road and finding ways to get along with this person is the most productive way to go. You could quit your job, or refuse to work with this person, but it won’t serve you.

Also, burning bridges doesn’t accomplish anything. You just come out looking like the angry, negative person in the situation. Most of us want to be liked and the more people like you, the more successful you will be in life. People will want to help you and do business with you.

This doesn’t imply the only reason to be a caring and kind person is so you’ll be successful in life; but it will help you get along with that person you don’t like.

How to Work With People You Don’t Like

Bregman offered some tips on how he has turned around similar situations in his professional life.

First, identify why it is exactly you don’t like this person. He suggests the traits you don’t like might remind you of qualities you have; a part of yourself you’re not proud of. Dig into it and try to understand it more. Get to know the person better and understand their motivations. You might be surprised at how it helps you to accept and even improve yourself.

Don’t take it personally. We tend to take the behavior of others personally. If someone is rude or short to you, it might be because they are panicked about a deadline they have that day. Think twice before you automatically assume it’s because of you, something you did, or the feelings they have towards you. Maybe their child is home ill, and they are worried.

Think about how forgiving you are with a friend or a loved one. They might do something that bothers you, but when someone you don’t like does the exact same thing, you’re far more angered or irritated. Try to identify and understand why they are the way are, or why it bothers you so much. As Bregman discovered, you can begin to work better with this person, and even start to like him or her.

It comes down to having compassion. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and change your perspective. While it might sound odd to talk about compassion in a blog about leadership, it shouldn’t be. It helps change your approach and improve professional relationships. And better relationships translate to greater success.

Have you had a tough work relationship you’ve been able to turn around?