Coworkers are like family — we don't get to choose them. When you said yes to that great gig with flexibility, excellent benefits, and tons of vacation, you didn't know you'd be working beside Snipey Suzy or Condescending Connie. So how do you deal when you have to work with someone you truly can't stand? We've got the goods on how to make your work life bearable again.

Recognize they're not trying to drive you crazy

Here's something key to keep in mind for every relationship, not only a workplace one. Not everyone is like you. Expecting people to think, perform, and react like you isn't only unrealistic — it's a recipe for constant frustration.

In her book, How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You, Kelly McDonald notes it's important to recognize that this person isn't trying to drive you bananas. They're just being themselves. Just that little bit of perspective can help keep your own reactions to their maddening sardine lunch or hour-long personal calls in check.

Manage the only thing you can control

You can't control how your co-worker runs the Monday morning meeting or responds to email. But you can control your reaction. In fact, it's the only thing you can control.

Some experts recommend a daily relaxation method. Instead of letting a behavior trigger a negative reaction, reframe the trigger — say, when your coworker tells a long, unrelated personal anecdote that makes the meeting run overtime — to take ten slow, deep breaths. Or maybe you start listening to a morning meditation on your way into work.

"Cultivating a diplomatic poker face is important," Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist and author of The Blame Game told LifeHack. "You need to be able to come across as professional and positive."

Why? Research shows the more people like you, the easier, more productive, and more profitable, your life will be. In a way, you're being healthily selfish, and protecting your own reputation and sanity at work.

Take it personally

This can be hard to hear, but might it be that the thing that drives you crazy about your coworker is actually a quality you hate in yourself? Peter Bregman, author of Leading with Emotional Courage, says recognizing this possibility can make working with someone you don't like suddenly a lot more interesting.

"Getting to know them better, and accepting the parts of them you don't like, is actually getting to know yourself better and accepting the parts of yourself you don't like," he wrote for the Harvard Business Review. "Being compassionate with yourself is the key to being compassionate with others. Before you know it, you'll actually begin to like people you never liked before. Maybe you'll even feel like helping them run those meeting more productively."

Recognize the value of a squeaky wheel

While it might make your life more fun to work on a team of people you'd like to spend a week with at the beach, it's not exactly the best strategy for an effective work team.

"You need people who have different points of view and aren't afraid to argue," Robert Sutton, a professor of management science at Stanford University, told LifeHack. "They are the kind of people who stop the organization from doing stupid things."

The coworker who is always negative? Seen another way, they might have a gift for seeing growth opportunities.

Work closer together

Instead of trying to avoid the person, try the opposite tactic. Seek them out. Work together.

"One of the best ways to get to like someone you don't like is to work on a project that requires coordination," Sutton told the Harvard Business Review. Working together will help you understand why this person is the way they are — a teething baby at home or a chronic health issue, say — and that can help you develop empathy.

"You might feel compassion instead of irritation," said Daniel Goleman, the co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, and author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights.

Worst case? You see your common human bonds, Jenny Brockis, a medical practitioner and the founder of Brainfit told The Huffington Post Australia, whether that means bonding over rush hour traffic or the latest BBC period piece.

Give zero f*cks

This might be your last recourse, but if you truly can't find a single redeeming quality to this person you feel truly stuck, Sutton recommends you "practice the fine art of emotional detachment or not giving a shit."

This is, put another way, a more pessimistic version of managing the only thing you can control: yourself. Only instead of deep breathing and singing kumbaya under your breath, you're effectively shrugging it off.

"If he's being a pain but you don't feel the pain, then there's no problem," said Goleman.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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