By Liz Reyer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
Q: I have to work with someone I dislike a lot and don’t have respect for. At times, I have to work with her quite closely. It’s really hard to keep it together and remain professional. What can I do?
A: It can be difficult to maintain civility if you’ve got a lot of active negative emotions, so your focus should be on creating more neutrality.
To be honest, your reaction to this person seems a bit harsh, and I’m curious about the behaviors that have led to this intensity. Was there some manner of betrayal that elicited this, or has it been a series of more minor issues? Give yourself a fairness test: If someone you liked did the same things, would you have the same reaction?
Assume for now that there has been a major incident between you that caused you to lose trust. In this type of situation, what has it taken for people to regain your confidence? There are always two sides to a story, it would be interesting to understand what your colleague would have to say. Think about whether knowing her side would help you find a way to move forward.
If it’s been more a matter of many small things, consider whether they really add up to the blanket lack of respect you’re feeling. Also look at whether style rather than substance is causing at least some of the issues. If she does her work or interacts in a way that is different from you, that can be hard to handle.
The goal in all of this is to look for ways that you can come to better terms with working with her. Because, if you don’t, you’re likely going to be the one perceived to have a problem. Try finding even minor things that you like or admire about her, and then focusing on them. Or develop an emotional buffer that helps you keep your mind on the business at hand.