Like Your Less Than Likeable Co-Worker

Just last week I was facilitating a team relationship repair when one of the members stated, “We don’t have to like each other, we just have to be able to work with each other.”

This is true.

And yet, I bristle.

Because it could be SO much better if you did like your co-workers. Not “like” as in “we’re tight.” “Like” as in respect and appreciate. They may not be your favorite people, they may not be someone you would choose to invite to your birthday party. But they can be someone whose work contribution you appreciate.

They’re your teammate. You’re on the same team, wearing the same jersey. Of all the places in the world the two of you could have chosen to work, you chose to work at this organization, on this team, with one another. As teammates, you’re both spending your life’s work, 2000 hours per year, looking to fulfill and realize the same mission.

What is there not to like?

*(If you can think of several answers to this question, hold that thought.)

All you need to do is find your co-worker overall “agreeable, enjoyable or satisfactory.” Affinity and admiration might be too much to ask – but satisfactory seems like a pretty low bar to hit.

Consider asking yourself, “What is there to like/love about __________?” Chances are there are at least three things that you can name. Focus on those. Remember those. Hold those near and dear when you want to smack 'em.

Be selfish, do it for your own happiness. “Study after study shows that good social relationships are the strongest, most consistent predictor of a happy life, even going so far as to call them a ‘necessary condition for happiness,’ meaning that humans can’t actually be happy without them,” according to Ruth Whippman in her New York Times article, “Happiness is Other People.”

Consider that to like someone is a big step towards a good social relationship. While these relationships don’t have to occur at work, they might as well.

*If you still find yourself with a tremendous distaste for this other person, and you feel your reasons are legitimate, then I recommend you dig deep and work through chapter 9 “Repair Relationships” in Culture Works, because 2000 hours per year is a lot of time to spend with someone you don’t like.


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