Sometimes, you just don’t want to work with a person, no matter what they may offer you. There are two easy, but not very good, solutions for working with people you dislike: Don’t work with them, by either excluding them from your team, or finding another project, or another job. The second poor solution is to limit your relationship with that person. Focus exclusively on the work you do together and be cautious in your communication to make sure your dislike does not show, and that your work still gets done.
But there is a much better option than those two, which is to find something that you like about the person. In other words, just stop disliking them. Why bother? I’ve worked with thousands of people, and I can hardly think of anyone that I actively dislike. It’s almost impossible for me to not be able to find something that I like about a person. Once I do, I focus on that, and life becomes so much easier. You should try doing the same.
If you think that you need to agree with someone on everything, or even most things in life before you can like them, you’re setting yourself up for a very disappointing life.
Forgiveness Within a Relationship
Related to this point is the power of forgiveness and the apology. I forgive everyone that is sorry for the mistakes that they make. Why not? Why don’t you? What do you possibly have to gain by not forgiving? What logical or theological reason could you have for not forgiving someone for something they are genuinely sorry for? Related to that, if you are guilty of a mistake, apologize early and often. Trust me, it’s important. People remember if you do or don’t apologize for your mistakes.
Stanford University has a very interesting initiative called the Stanford Forgiveness Projects, which as of 2010 was headed by Dr. Frederic Luskin. According to Dr. Luskin, “Forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and lead to greater feelings of optimism, hope, compassion and self confidence.” Those who know me well know that I am an evangelist for forgiveness. My personal belief in forgiveness goes back to my Catholic upbringing, but I think it’s extremely important for all walks of life, including the workplace.
On his website, Dr. Luskin includes the results of a corporate pilot his organization conducted, which taught techniques for forgiveness as a part of a series of interpersonal workshops:
Results showed gross dealer concession (sales) increased for the first group of advisors an average of 18%, for the second group of advisors an average increase of 24%, for the third group an average of 24%, for the fourth group of advisors an average of 46%, for the fifth group an average of 25% for the sixth group an average increase of 14% and for the seventh group 30%.
Quality of life, anger, and physical vitality measures also demonstrated statistically significant positive change throughout the study. Forgiveness is powerful. If you’re interested in learning more, PsychologyTools.org has tools and materials on its website.
The next time someone does something that upsets you, it also helps to remember Hanlon’s razor – Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. And if it does turn out to be malice, consider Joel Osteen’s relationship advice: “When we forgive others, we take away their power to hurt us.”When we forgive others, we take away their power to hurt us. - Joel Osteen Click To Tweet