Everyone is not going to like you. You are not going to like everyone. The more difficult you find those facts to accept, the more likely you are to find yourself losing sleep, or dreading going to work over a difficult coworker.
Much like bad bosses, there are many brands of crap colleagues: oversharers, the hyper peppy, the hypo peppy, folks with intense mood swings, anger issues, liars, louts, the whole lot. Step one to dealing with any of these types is allowing yourself to not get along with them. It’s ok! So many people, especially women, feel the need to like and be liked for fear of being impolite. Being able to work with a variety of people is an important asset, but sometimes, it just isn’t going to happen. Your value at work is more than your likability.

After you have allowed yourself to not get on with your problem coworker, assess how you have been reacting to them. You’re upset, yes, but how is that manifesting in your work, your self-esteem? You cannot control someone else, but you can control yourself. If you can pinpoint what happens after a bad interaction with a bad coworker, you can change how you react. For example, let’s say you have a coworker who sends inflammatory emails about your work, ccing everyone, every day. If you usually sit in your office and fume, try going for a break, or at least doing something away from your computer for a while. Extract yourself from the situation, and change your own personal outcome.

Now that you have allowed yourself to not get on with your problem coworker, and you have identified and changed your reaction to what bothers you about said coworker, it’s time to be honest with the coworker. You’ve been honest with yourself thus far, and while that’s a positive step, if you don’t tell the coworker what’s going on, you’re going to come off as passive aggressive. You don’t need to list every single problem you have with the person, but a simple, “It really upsets me when you _____, I’m going to _____ when it happens, and I just wanted you to know.” What if the person has no idea they’re doing that? They might not care, of course, but we don’t get better at being humans without feedback. Be brief, be professional, and move on.

In review:

  • Allow yourself to not get along with everyone.
  • Identify how you react to a bad situation, extract yourself, and change your own personal outcome.
  • Explain the situation and your new reaction to the person who’s upsetting you briefly, and professionally.
  • Be happier. After all, whose life is it, anyway?
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