Extraordinary Team Blog

Don’t Like a Coworker?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on August 27, 2009

When working with teams, I often hear the lame excuse of “I just don’t like that person” or “We just don’t get along.”  You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but you still have to work with that person.  Doesn’t mean you have to love the person, but you have to be able to get along to achieve the team’s objectives.

In a weird and twisted way, I liken this situation to my aversion to peas.  Simply put, I don’t like peas at all.  Never have and never will.  Can’t tell you why, either.  Others might like peas, but for whatever reason, I just don’t.

So let’s follow the analogy . . . do you have people on your team you just don’t like?  Others might like them, but you just don’t?  And the reason doesn’t really matter, now, does it?

When it comes to dealing with peas (or people you don’t care for), you have five basic options:

Avoidance.  You can opt to stay away from them completely.  In fact, you may spend lots of time and energy figuring out how to avoid those awful peas.  I have even seen people elevate their hatred of peas into their favorite pastime!  Are you actively avoiding someone on your team?  Lamenting their very existence?

Passive Resistance.  You pick those nasty peas out of the dish and put them aside . . . maybe for the dog to eat later.  Are you passively avoiding someone on the team?  You may acknowledge their existence, but refuse to engage.

Camouflage.  I used to hide peas in my milk so my mother would think I ate them.  Inevitably, I was always caught.  She always knew when I was faking it.  Are you outwardly playing good team, but inwardly resenting the person?  Some would call this being “two-faced” or mildly schizophrenic.

Limited Doses.  As I got older and more mature, I learned to tolerate a few peas.  As an adult, I still don’t care for peas, but if they are mixed in a dish that I like, I can eat them without a fuss.  Can you demonstrate your maturity and put your differences aside?

Do a Forrest Gump.  Can you not only get along, but also acknowledge and accept your teammate’s differences?  Just like “peas and carrots,” bring together people into combinations that work to enhance the team’s objectives.  Take a fresh look at your team members’ skills, talents, and abilities.  Notice the different flavors and diverse perspectives they bring to table.

Keep in mind; you have a choice.  It’s the incompatibility that creates a team’s uniqueness.  If we thought the same as you, acted the same and had the same beliefs, we wouldn’t need a team, would we?

Question:  How do you deal with team members who you just don’t like?  Do you put your team’s best interest first?

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