Except you are a cookie or  a bowl of fried plantains,  there’s a big chance that someone out there in the universe hates you. You have enemies and village people are real. Well, put a finger down if you have a co-worker who always gives you the stink eye; they don’t like you and they will never be affable. Of course I know there are people that don’t like me at work for whatever reason. One thing I know for sure though is that if you live for external validation, you will lose your way.

The office environment is complex and knowing how to navigate well is just as important. The ability to collaborate well with co-workers can directly impact your overall quality of work. For the most part, I consider myself a good collaborator but I thought I should share my experience handling a co-worker who didn’t like me.

Back story: this person told me about an associate position at their company which I applied for, and got. 11 months later, I was designated to lead the same unit they worked at and that meant they now reported to me.

For some reason, that change was not well received. I tried to be friendly and supportive, but it just didn’t work.  I also tried having those one-on-one crucial conversations regarding  the situation but those didn’t work either . One time, things escalated between us while I was trying to give feedback on some work they were handling and I had to report the situation to HR; adding petrol to fire.

For the rest of our working relationship, I kept it respectful and formal. I would often ask how they were faring and how their families were doing; and that was all. I couldn’t otherwise be more sociable. The entire team shared an office and the atmosphere was usually casual with conversations and jokes erupting every now and then. The problem was that on several occasions, my contributions to those conversations were met with some angst from this person. So, I had to keep to myself mostly (earplugs to the rescue) and that was slightly painful for me, honestly.

So, after I left the job, I had one of those crucial conversations with this person. Well according to them, it had more to do with my leadership style. Sometimes being empathetic could come across as being biased to some. Well, if I had to do my run again, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I was guided by my values and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. And maybe there were other reasons they didn’t share but I’ve let that experience go.

The office had thrown a send-forth for me at the conference room (two doors from our office) and they didn’t attend.  One of the support staff had also offered some cake from the party and they had refused. I felt bad about that too, but I have moved on.

So, how do you deal with a co-worker who clearly doesn’t like you?
  1. Find out why they don’t like you by having a crucial conversation with them. Maybe you are actually annoying (laughs).
  2. Let your values guide you and you’d be fine. When people from different backgrounds come together, perspectives on topics will differ. I think that you’d be able to sleep at night if you remain true to yourself.
  3. Maintain a respectful demeanor. It’s just not worth it to be at loggerheads with a co-worker. Save your emotional energy.
  4. Keep conversations respectful.

What doesn’t work?

Gossiping about the said co-worker. Nicki Minaj said, “it’s no friends in the game, you a’int learnt that yet.”  Meaning there’s no friend at work. If you gossip about someone you don’t like with your office bestie, that person will hear because your so-called office bestie will open your bum-bum outside.

Last words: Not everyone would like you. Learn to be OK with that. Sometimes the reasons they don’t like you are beyond your control. I admit that because I’m not an open book I tend to come across as being secretive. Yes, it’s ironic that this guy that smiles and says hello to everyone keeps so much of his personal life (or career plans) away from co-workers. To anyone who loves hating on people, Relax!