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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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    Last Updated on March 15, 2019

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

    Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

    In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

    What Makes a Leader Fail?

    A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

    If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

    And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

    What Is Effective Leadership?

    Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

    Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

    Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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    “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

    How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

    To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

    1. Courage

    The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

    “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

    Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

    For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

    In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

    It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

    Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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    2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

    If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

    The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

    To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

    3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

    Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

    Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

    4. Likability

    Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

    When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

    Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

    So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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    5. Vulnerability

    Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

    When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

    6. Authenticity

    Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

    Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

    7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

    Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

    Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

    Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

    Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

    As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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    “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

    8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

    Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

    This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

    9. A Passion for Continual Learning

    Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

    These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

    The Bottom Line

    No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

    Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

    More Resources About Effective Leadership

    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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