What are the universal truths in life? Ask most people and they will tell you “death and taxes”, and to some extent that is true. But another truth is conflict. You will not like everyone. Maybe it’s just me, but I sometimes wonder why so many HR professionals spend so much of our time trying to get people to like one another and be nice. It’s unrealistic. People come to us with the problems they have dealing with someone on their team or in their department that they can’t get along with. We talk through various techniques they can use to make the relationship better. But why?
I know, I know. If everyone gets along the organization benefits. I understand that. But it’s just not possible. So, instead of facing situations with people they don’t like, they try to ignore it. Well, here’s my advice…
Grow up. Understand that we do not all have to like each other. We do not have to agree on everything. If it’s someone I must work with on an ongoing basis, I’ve even gone as far as to be direct with that person and say, “Hey, I know you don’t care for me and you know I don’t care for you. But, we will both look better to the powers that be if we can put on our game face and pretend to get along. I’ll back you up, you back me up. We’ll both look like winners.”
I’ve actually had that conversation with someone years ago and then we each followed it up by saying nice things once in awhile about each other’s work. We even decided to collaborate on something so we could at least understand why the other person did things a certain way. It turned out to be one of the most successful projects I ever worked on because she and I were so different in our approach. We each brought something very unique to the end result.
Did we ever become friends? No. I really couldn’t stand her and I am positive she felt the same about me. But, did everyone think we were respectful colleagues who could accomplish great things together? Yes. And, over time, we actually had a workable relationship. I didn’t have to worry that she was talking behind my back or trying to sabotage my career. I’m sure she felt the same way. We stopped spending time and energy in something that would damage us both at work.
So, what’s the point?
Really, it’s just a wake-up call that for all the articles and posts out there that tell us we all have to be nice, play nice, work nice, and like everyone, it’s not true. Be yourself, don’t go out of your way to hurt others, be honest with the few people you don’t care for, try to stay away from the people you can’t stand, and the rest will work itself out. Oh yeah, and remember to watch your back!
What do you think? How do you handle the situation when you don’t like a colleague or someone you have to deal with?