Monday, March 8

How to work with someone you can’t stand in the age of Covid-19

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In many ways, working from home is great when it comes to avoiding co-workers you can’t stand. Whether they’re too clingy or too pretentious, these people can sometimes put a downer on your mood at the office, but home working doesn’t take them out of the equation entirely. To deal with their behaviour in the era of Covid-19, try switching off your webcam, carefully choosing your days in the office and, above all, doing some serious soul-searching yourself!

You can’t choose your family and, unless you’re fresh to the world of work, you probably already know that you can’t choose your colleagues either. And when it comes to working together to get the job done, loathing your co-worker or your manager can prove problematic.

In 2017, the Viking Blog surveyed French people about the work colleagues they hate, and three types of co-worker stood out: The phony nice-guy (that colleague who’s all smiles then bitches about you behind your back), the phony hard-worker (who always tells you how busy they are before heading out for another coffee break), and the bootlicker (who annoys everyone by sucking up to managers).

In the context of the pandemic, home working certainly has its benefits, temporarily banishing these irritating co-workers from your immediate vicinity. Still, that doesn’t mean shutting down interaction completely, and you’re still going to have to grin and bear it when there’s no escaping dealing with them. Here are three tips for coping with co-workers you hate in the age of Covid-19.

1 Switch off your webcam

If you only ever crossed paths during break times or in company corridors, then great, working from home will completely cut this person out of your work life. No need to endure any more endless conversations about the weekend’s weather — out of sight, out of mind.

If this person works alongside you or is your superior, you can still reduce interactions. Try turning off your webcam during video meetings, for example, even if it’s not particularly pleasant for the other person to be talking to a black screen.

Communicating by email or internal messaging services is another way of keeping contact to a minimum. But beware, some conversations should be had out loud, in person, to avoid misunderstandings. And don’t bury your head in the sand either, because if you work closely with that person, discussion and interaction can become difficult. If that’s the case, why not try talking to them about it? (After trying point number three, perhaps).

2 Choose days in the office carefully

The pandemic has shaken up the organisation of offices and their workers. Now, not everyone can come in to work at the same time on the same days, depending on how big the office is.

So if you’re allowed, or expected, to go into your office, why not try to choose your days to avoid being in at the same time as the person you hate?

Try to find out in advance who is going in when, or you could end up being the only two people in the office!

3 Above all, think about why you can’t stand this person 

Finding someone’s words or behaviour unbearable can also come from you — from the way you’ve been raised, from your experience and your past. You should therefore ask yourself why you can’t stand that particular person.

Carlos Valdes-Dapena, author of Virtual Teams: Holding the Center When You Can’t Meet Face-to-Face, tells the Fast Company website about one time when he started thinking about a colleague he didn’t like, and how he realised it was because she tended to boast. “Once I got underneath it, I realised that part of my feelings were jealousy because she had done some pretty impressive stuff,” he explains. “I was raised to be modest. I was making her behaviour about me. Instead, I had to reframe her behaviour as being quirky and off-putting, but not something I couldn’t work through. Reframing the dislike is the hardest part.”

So wherever that person is in your workplace hierarchy, think hard about the reasons why this person annoys you so much. Because, just like your family, you’re ultimately going to have to live with them.