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7 Things You Haven’t Tried To Deal With That One Co-Worker You Dislike

7 Things You Haven’t Tried To Deal With That One Co-Worker You Dislike

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    Work is stressful. All day you deal with deadlines, demands, and distractions. Work is easier and happier when you have pleasant people around you who are there to help you and work with you. That doesn’t always happen though. Often there is that one person who is on a mission to make your life miserable.

    If you have a co-worker like this, you know how they can suck every ounce of happiness out of your life. It’s a ripple effect that seeps into other aspects of your life: whomever you go home to, your friends, your family, even the lady standing behind you in the grocery store checkout lane. It’s pure emotional torture.

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    It seems like I’ve had a difficult co-worker at every job I’ve had. I was beginning to wonder if there was some mystical message that the Universe was trying to teach me. I thought I was easy-going, upbeat, fun-loving, and full of personality. So why didn’t these irritating antagonists appreciate me? Why were these people haunting me?

    The last one was the worst. I was going through a divorce and had just become a single parent. I had recently changed career paths venturing into foreign territory. I was really scared. My new co-worker (who was also my manager) seemed so nice when she interviewed me for the job. She must have liked me because I did get the job. But then, it happened. Like a snake shedding its skin, each day as we sat there, desks almost touching each other, she became scarier as layers of her “niceness” faded, and her fangs began to show.

    Every day was another attack at my incompetence. For months, this continued until I changed my thinking. One day I realized this was all about me. This miserable co-worker was testing my character strength. I had to step back from the situation and take an inventory. I asked myself, “How much can I handle? Is this about them or me? Am I looking in the mirror? Do I see something I don’t like about myself in them? Am I jealous of something they have, like a higher position, a better relationship with the boss, or freedom to do whatever they want? That’s when I learned that this impossible, nasty, bully was there to teach me about myself.

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    Here is what I discovered.

    1. Compassion

    Everyone is carrying their own silent sack of troubles with them every day. Everybody worries, and everybody has problems. When you keep this in proper perspective, you realize your co-worker’s nasty comments have nothing to do with you at all.

    2.  Kindness

    Yes, it’s totally phony at first, but after a while, it feels great. Shower them with kindness. It’s amazing how you can turn grumpy people around when you do. You become the conqueror of the situation. You can mold people by the way you interact with them. Every morning, I went to the coffee shop in our building. The woman who ran the shop was grumpy, unpleasant, and never smiled. Her nastiness was contagious. When I returned to my office, I realized I was in a bad mood. I made a decision to stop letting her negativity ruin my morning. From then on, I went to the coffee shop with a wide smile on my face and greeted her with an overly dramatic, “Good morning! How are you today?” The change didn’t occur immediately, but slowly, day after day, her frown softened and she smiled. All she needed was a little kindness. Most people probably responded to her negativity in kind, but if you don’t get hooked into it, you will feel better and so will the other person.

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    3. Wisdom

    Find your inner strength. You might have to search deep inside yourself, but you’re stronger than you realize. Instead of giving in to your impulsive reactions without thinking, try not reacting. Often we make situations worse than they are. Give your reaction time to settle. Time changes your perspective, if you let it.  Be smarter. Rise above the conflict. Slow down.

    4. Reflection

    Often the traits that irritate us the most in others are the traits we don’t like in ourselves. Are you brave enough to ask yourself, “Am I looking in the mirror?” At first, you won’t recognize yourself, but if you can step back and look at what happened, you might recognize yourself. It’s difficult to admit, but it’s true.

    5. Dignity

    Never let another person’s bad behavior bring out your (even) worse behavior. Once the negativity of others triggers us, we can become as monstrous as they are. Maintain your dignity when others lose theirs.

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    6. Communicate

    If you can find your courage and your strength – go for coffee and talk it out. Simply express your desire to improve your relationship. Ask for advice. Be humble, not egotistic. I once had a co-worker who gave me a dirty look whenever I walked by her desk. It didn’t take long before I was hooked and started giving her the same looks she gave me. For months, we’d walk by each other and roll our eyes. Until, one day, I asked another girl I worked with if she knew why I was getting dirty looks. Her answer surprised me: “She thinks that you don’t like her.” I had no reason to dislike her. I had no negative feelings for her (until those looks started). I went over to her, told her that I’d like to move forward and be friendly again. It worked.

    7. Know when to walk away.

    Abuse is never acceptable. Just like any bad relationship, you have to know when it’s time to walk away with dignity. You might have to quit. If the situation is absolutely unbearable or abusive, it will probably affect your emotional and physical health. Find another job, start that consulting business you’ve been dreaming about, or follow your bliss. This unlikable co-worker might be a blessing in disguise. They might be the messenger forcing you to make the change you’ve been dreaming about. Go for it. Seize the day!

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    June Silny

    ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

    Reference

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