8 Ways to Deal When You Work With Someone You Hate


We can choose our friends, but we can very rarely choose our coworkers. We're just a bunch of people working for the same company, and we're told to get along. And to be fair, that's what happens most of the time. We make friends. We have relationships. Some people aren't exactly our first choice, but they're okay. However, occasionally, there is that one person that stands out from the crowd. Not only do we dislike them; we hate them with a passion. It can consume our every waking thought. If you are in this same boat, here are eight ways to help you cope.

1. Avoid Them Whenever Possible

Yes, you work with that person, but how often you interact with them could be controlled. Maybe you can do more of your communication through email, or even texts. If you know they'll be sitting in a certain spot at lunchtime, have your lunch somewhere else, or a little earlier or later in the day. If they're in a meeting with you, don't sit close enough to force conversation. If you're working on a project together, limit the time spent in the same room. Do whatever you can to keep your interactions to an absolute minimum. And it goes without saying, activities outside of work should be avoided at all costs. At least at work, you know there will be a certain level of company-mandated civility.

2. Have a Serious One-On-One

Sometimes the hate between two people can be traced back to one or two incidents that have been blown out of proportion. On other occasions, it may be a misunderstanding that has grown into resentment, which has created undue hostility. For all you know, they could be holding a grudge against you that has turned their attitude very sour. And the same may be said about you. This could all be in both of your heads, so find the time to sit down at lunch, or a coffee break, and address the elephant in the room. "Look, we really seem to have some hostility between us…can we talk about it? Would you like to say something? Is there anything I can do or say to address this?" Of course, if you really hate someone, but they are blissfully unaware of it, this approach will not work.

3. Remember That It's Okay to Really Dislike Someone

A lot of us have this feeling that everyone should like us, and everyone should, in turn, be likable. But that's just not human nature. Some people will always rub us the wrong way. Some people are polar opposites of us, and although they have many friends, we are never going to be one of them. As long as you don't act out on that hatred, you can simply reassure yourself that this person is always going to be someone in your life that makes your skin crawl, but that when you leave work, you don't see them. And that's totally fine.

4. Keep the Hate to Yourself

When you start spewing your feelings of hate and disgust to other coworkers, you are on a slippery slope to getting fired. At the very least, people will certainly think less of you, and may even think you speak just as badly about them behind their backs. It's bad enough that you have to go through every workday feeling tense and annoyed; you do not want to add office gossip about you into the equation. If you really have to blow off some steam about your coworker, do it out of the office, preferably with a close friend or family member who can help you calm down.

5. Find Something Else to Concentrate On

There is an old proverb that goes something like this: "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." If you hate someone (and hate is a strong emotion) then you are angry, pent up, frustrated, and on edge. That's not good for you, your career, or your health. So, take the focus off the coworker who is making you miserable, and instead find something to occupy your mind. Maybe it's a big project at work. Perhaps it's a hobby that can keep your mind ticking over. Some people find it cathartic to turn that hate into something that can be positive, like volunteering to fight animal abuse, homelessness, or a disease. Whatever you do, don't let hate consume you. It can be channeled for good.

6. Maybe It's Not Them. Maybe…It's You.

A little bit of introspection never hurt anyone. Famous advertising CEO Bill Bernbach kept a small piece of paper in his pocket, and carried it for his entire career. It said, "Maybe they're right." In the advertising world, this was a way to bring him down to earth and consider the opinions of the client, his coworkers, and anyone else who may offer a dissenting opinion. When it comes to someone you hate, take the same approach.

Maybe you took an instant dislike to them for the wrong reasons. Perhaps they remind you of someone else you really dislike. Or worse, their worst traits remind you of your own. Take a long, hard look at why you hate this person, and reflect upon it. The results may surprise you.

7. Get to Know Them a Little Better

It may seem counterintuitive to spend more time with someone you passionately dislike, but it can actually be very helpful. It's very possible that your opinion of the person is based on half-truths, brief encounters, and misunderstandings from emails and phone calls. In fact, emails are notorious for causing upsets, as tone and body language cannot be read in the text. Therefore, by spending more time with that person, you may get to know "the real them." You may even find that you get to like them, rather than just understand them. Or maybe even make a new friend. It sounds crazy to think hate can turn into friendship, but it happens all the time.

8. Put Them Out of Your Mind

Your hate is giving this person more time in your life than they should ever have. You're concentrating on them way too often. So they suck at their job. They have a bad attitude. They microwave the smelliest fish dishes on a daily basis. In the grand scheme of things…so what? Unless this person is doing something to you that is significantly worrying or dangerous (in which case, HR can get involved quickly) you are simply putting too much focus on annoying behavior. Even if they stole a promotion out from under you, or take credit for some of your work, your hatred is not going to change how they act in the future. Just realize you're the better person.

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