Posted by Paladin on July 31, 2018
As a creative professional, you love your job. Your role is challenging and rewarding, your office space bright and inspiring, and you couldn’t imagine working with a more compatible team. Then, one day, you notice a change. Suddenly, you’re getting a bad vibe from one of your coworkers. It’s clear: a coworker hates you.
What do you do?
In environments where creatives congregate, situations like this aren’t uncommon. Creative personalities tend to be passionate independent thinkers with strong opinions about their work. At agencies and other companies that employ creative teams, emotions can run high and coworkers don’t always see eye to eye. That, in turn, can lead to friction and an environment that isn’t healthy or conducive to producing good work.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, it’s best not to ignore it. A coworker’s negative attitude toward you can make you miserable, and even put your job at risk. Rather than hope it will blow over, try these three strategies to help you move past the animosity and get back to work.
Try a Change of Scene
In the workplace, understanding why your colleagues feel the way they do is important. Simply put, you all have to be able to co-exist.
A poor relationship with a coworker can create a toxic work environment that negatively effects your ability to do your job. Recent research has found that workplace incivility — when employees are treated rudely at work — causes them to be “more likely to decrease their work effort, organizational commitment, and the amount of time spent at work.”
In order to create a more civil workplace, try inviting your coworker to join you for a cup of coffee outside the office walls. Because this approach demonstrates your willingness to make the relationship work it may be just what’s needed to deescalate things and bridge the gap between you. Interestingly, one study shows that when you consume some caffeine prior to engaging in group activities at work you’re not only likely to feel more alert, but will be more willing to work with others. Put this hidden benefit of your daily coffee to good use.
One of the most frustrating aspects of having a coworker who seems to dislike you is that you may not know why they feel the way they do. You haven’t gossiped about them, criticized them in meetings with your boss, or taken credit for one of their great ideas. So why are they giving you the evil eye?
One way to find out is to ask. Dylan Marron, a digital content creator who recently spoke about his experience with people who post hateful comments about him online, deals with his detractors by probing them about their motives for providing hurtful feedback.
“Empathy is not endorsement,” Marron explains. In other words, acknowledging people who may have been raised differently from you or have a completely different outlook doesn’t mean you approve of their behavior — but doing so might allow you to understand more about their point of view.
Bring in a Mediator
If, despite your best efforts, your toxic coworker still has no interest in accepting your olive branch, you might want to consider taking a different tack. This is a good time to call in a mediator.
Introducing a third-party into the equation, whether in the form of your boss or a human resources manager, can be very helpful when it comes to defusing an undesirable workplace situation and creating a better relationship moving forward. In the interest of fairness, be sure to explain the state of affairs as impartially as possible. Your proactive attempt to improve things for both yourself and your colleague won’t go unnoticed by senior management.
As much as you may want to get along with everyone in the office, creative minds don’t always think alike. It may take some time, but a positive and diplomatic approach can often ameliorate even the most toxic work relationship.