You spend many hours each day with your coworkers, so your relationships with them can have a big impact on your job satisfaction and performance. Even if you make a good faith effort to get along with everyone, it’s inevitable that you may encounter coworkers you simply don’t get along with.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do with workplace relationships gone bad:
In negative-working relationships, it can be tempting to use harsher language or sarcasm. Instead, do your best to stay polite even if your coworker isn’t always polite to you. Take the high road. You will feel better and you may keep the situation from escalating.
Acknowledge If You Did Something Wrong
If you inadvertently did something your coworker might find offensive or upsetting, apologize and talk about the incident. Try to get a fresh start.
Don’t Let Words Get to You
Sometimes, someone who wants to blow off steam will use harsh or unkind words. Unfortunately, this can cause the relationship to deteriorate further and can make things awkward. If someone uses language you don’t like, ask them to stop — but be willing to give them a second chance. Many people can say something they don’t mean in the heat of the moment.
Try to Work It Out Yourselves
If there is one coworker you struggle to connect with, consider getting to know them individually. Sometimes, people are very different one-on-one, and a coworker may react positively if you make an effort. Sit beside them during lunch or a break, say hello and try some kindness. You can even try addressing the problem in the relationship. Sometimes, someone is reacting to a perceived slight or may need a little extra support to meet you halfway.
If a coworker acts in negative ways, consider keeping track of what is said and when. If you are facing harassment in the workplace, especially, notes about the abuse or harassment can be important. Taking notes can also make you reevaluate what is upsetting you. Do you notice your coworker speaks to everyone the same way, or have they singled you or other workers out specifically?
If It Gets Bad Enough, Speak to HR
No one deserves to work in a toxic environment where harassment or verbal abuse takes place. While in many cases coworkers can at least get along with some effort, in other cases, bullies might only escalate their behavior. In these situations, you may find you worry about your safety. Speak to HR if this is the case. Having a record of specific incidents and comments with dates can be helpful during this step.
You deserve a safe work environment, and that means a work environment safe from toxic relationships. If you find yourself tense with coworkers, some reflection and positive action can make a big difference. If you notice the tension moving towards bullying or behavior which might become dangerous, it is time to speak up.