5 Ways to Manage a Colleague That Does Not Like You

GCG Leadership Development Team

One of the first lessons of leadership is that you do not command respect with your designation. You do not even have to be liked by your colleagues just because you now wear the invisible robes of leadership. Likability and respect are not available at command. They need to be earned.

This is a harsh truth every leader faces at one time or the other in their work life. While this may be the truth, there is the reality of having to work with each other as a team.

How do you work with an individual who you know does not like you? How do you manage the situation without creating stress for the other person and yourself?

Managing someone who doesn’t like you can be difficult. Thankfully, there are tips that can help.

Here are some ways you may want to consider in the unfortunate event of coming across such colleagues.

Avoid Chasing the Reason behind the Dislike/ Disrespect

The primary reaction in situations requiring managing someone who doesn’t like you is to obsess over the reasons for the other person’s dislike or disrespect.

You cannot assume or predict other people’s reasons. It is best not to lose your head and go to sleep assuming the bad, worst, and everything in between.

Avoid analyzing the other person’s feelings of disrespect toward you. Refrain from trying to make sense of these feelings. When you are dealing with emotions, logic often takes a backseat.

When managing someone who doesn’t respect you, avoid the tendency to dramatize the situation or make more of the behavior than it actually is.

Observe the Person’s Behavior

Often, you may think you know your co-worker dislikes or disrespects you. But sometimes, it could just be your perspective that needs a tweak.

There are some obvious signs of a person that disrespects or dislikes you:

· They do not make eye contact with you

· They show complete agreement with your views at meetings, but ignore to follow them later.You may feel as if they listened to every word you said, yet deliberately refused to put them into action.

· They give you terse answers, limited to “true,” “good,” “no,” “okay” or “alright”

· They talk bad about you with other colleagues

· They make you feel as if you do not truly deserve to be a leader

· They get defensive when you ask them about work-related questions

· They do not approach you with work-related questions

Well, these are actions that are hard to ignore and difficult to navigate in a work environment where you wish to succeed.

Still, take a step back and observe your own reactions. Every individual likes to be liked and respected by everyone. The reality is, however, different. Understand if the situation seems stressful due to your ego or due to the other person’s behavior.

Consider a different perspective for some behaviors:

· If the person does not bring any work-related questions to you, then this could be because the person is a self-starter and more independent.

· The person agrees with your views at meetings but does not follow your approach later. This could simply be because they have their own approach to doing things.

· Terse replies could be part of the individual’s nature rather than a deliberate ploy to make you feel inferior.

Let it Go if it is Only Your Ego Hurting

When it comes to managing someone who doesn’t respect you, letting go can be the best solution in some situations.

Rudeness and other toxic behaviors that jeopardize team spirit or disrupt the work environment need to be addressed.

To truly understand if the problem is your co-worker’s behavior or your own ego, ask yourself the following questions:

· Is the colleague good at their job?

· Is their behavior affecting the team morale?

· Is the behavior affecting deadlines or project quality?

· Is your work lessened or heightened by the behavior?

If you answered “no” to the above, then the issue does not require addressing. It is just your ego hurting.

Your job as a leader is not to be liked or respected but to lead your team toward organizational goals. If the colleague is easing your task toward this goal, then ignore the behavior.

Decide Your Approach

You may sometimes have to take concrete action when managing someone who doesn’t like you.

If the colleague’s behavior stops with a few smirks, shrugs or disrespectful frowns, then it is better to ignore these actions. You cannot force anyone to like or respect you. In such cases, raising the issue with the colleague can worsen the situation.

But if the co-worker crosses the limit with their behavior to the extent that it impacts your work, then it is time to take action. For example, if the colleague is spreading false news about you or is undermining your authority in front of other co-workers, then it is time to take action.

You could have a one-to-one conversation with the colleague. Being open does not mean you need to be rude.

First, confirm if the tension you perceive between you both is not your perception alone. If it is not, then you could ask your co-worker for reasons.

For example, you could carry lead the conversation as: “I feel there is some conflict in our interactions. I think we both can contribute our best professionally if the underlying tension is cleared. If there is something I have said or done you feel I shouldn’t have, then this is the time to tell me so.”

This approach can go in two ways. First, you really might be guilty of an action or behavior that has not gone down well with the co-worker. Second, it could be that the co-worker is just playing hard or is really hard to please.

Either way, you should be happy that you have done your best to resolve the situation. You can apologize and move on in case you provoked the behavior in the co-worker. If the colleague is deliberately aloof, then it is time to move on without any guilt.

Report your Colleague’s Behavior

You might have to resort to implementing some harsh measures when managing someone who doesn’t like you. If your one-to-one talks have failed and the co-worker is refusing to let go and continues their toxic behavior, then report the situation to your manager.

Put forth the difficulties you are facing as a result of the friction with your co-worker. Explain the professional consequences and how continuing in such an environment can be self-sabotaging.

Continuing the toxic relationship is detrimental to your professional as well as personal growth. By escalating the issue, you are handing over the control to another authority. Wait for the concerned authorities to take appropriate action.

Meanwhile, maintain dignity in your interactions with your co-worker, no matter how difficult they continue to be. Remember that maintaining dignity even during impossible times is the hallmark of a true leader.

In Conclusion

Leadership is a lesson in humility, efficiency, and in developing an attitude of doing what you think is right and not what is popular.

When you accept this truth, whether or not someone likes you ceases to matter. You learn to lead your team through milestones after milestones, with or without the co-worker.

Leadership is hard, but efficient coaches can make the journey easier. Did you know that world-famous leaders Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos became much better leaders with coaches?

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