I Hate All of You: 4 Tips For When You Can’t Stand Your Coworkers

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job - 3 years ago

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Offices are a bit like pressure cookers:

If you try to heat up leftover fish inside of one, everyone nearby will summarily attempt to take you out of existence.

“Greetings, coworker. I’m just looking for the guy who keeps putting salmon in the microwave. If you see him, let him know I’m coming to kill him.”

That is to say that offices are small, enclosed spaces where you’re stuck for long periods of time with the same exact people for months — or even years — on end.

At a certain point, that situation is bound to breed a little animosity. Someone’s going to get mad at you, or you’re going to get mad at someone else.

And then, quite suddenly, you’ve got beef.


1. For Starters: Determine the Precise Nature of Your Beef

As everyone knows, there are many popular varieties of office beef, including (but not limited to):

  • Sneaky Beef: You hate someone else, and they have no idea.
  • Unrequited Beef: Someone else appears to hate you — you have no idea why and don’t currently feel the same way, but they constantly work to undermine you or take credit for your work.
  • Mutual Beef, or Beef Squared: You hate someone and they also hate you. This is the stuff that showstopping dance battles are made of.
  • Beef Unlimited, aka “The Potluck”: When there’s plenty of beef to go around. You indiscriminately hate everyone in your entire office. Congratulations — you’ve made it.

It’s important that you figure out exactly which kind of beef you’re currently involved in before you can take any steps to squash it.

Some of these are easier to identify than others, but the steps for dealing with all of them are all relatively similar.

2. Where to Go From Here: How to Handle Bad Work Relationships

Let’s assume, for the sake of this article, that your relationship with your coworkers is still in a mostly repairable state.

That’s important to assume because, unless they’re doing something truly heinous/illegal that you could report them for, odds are you’re not going to get anyone fired just because you don’t like them. Problematic or straight up bad behavior can be relayed to HR, but it’s not against any rules to be annoying.

Likewise, the easiest way to get away from someone who hates you is just to pack your bags and leave — aka quit your job — but given that you’re reading this article, you probably don’t want to use your nuclear option quite yet.

What’s that? The most viscerally upsetting stock photo of beef on the internet, you ask? Happy to provide.

Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to mitigate or even totally squash said beef. Things like…

  • Start with some empathy. Think about what might be making your coworker act the way that they do — even if the behavior annoys you, you might find you can stomach it a little better if you understand it more.
  • Confront the problem directly. Some people respond well to people being upfront with them.
  • Connect with them. If you and some coworkers go for beers sometimes, invite this coworker along. Maybe just look for opportunities to ask this person about their day and how they’re feeling.
  • Think about what’s really upsetting you. Even if it hasn’t turned you into a jerk yet, you might find that much of your dislike of this person is in your own head, and stems from you associating them with someone or something else that you already hate.

However, there are a few exceptions to these guidelines, where for one reason or another diplomacy is no longer an option. For example…

3. I Hate All of You: Handling Rotten Coworkers

There’s always the chance that no matter what you try, someone in the office will continue to hate you.

Or, at the very least, they’ll say weird passive-aggressive stuff to you forever.

This person will always seem like they’re trying to square up with you or other coworkers, and no amount of kind words or after-work group beer invitations will persuade them to chill the hell out.

“I know Marge has pneumonia and all, I’m just saying her restaurant picks for office lunch day have sucked ass recently, and it’s becoming a problem.”

If you’re particularly unlucky, this might even be a whole group of office folks who are being unreasonable or treating you and others unfairly.

In this case, it’s not you: it’s your office culture that sucks, and that’s tough to fix.

Unfortunately, if any of this is true for you, you don’t have a lot of options besides quitting your job or asking to be transferred to a different location or division.

But if that’s not an option either, there are a few things you can do that might help make the situation a little more bearable, even if you find you can’t entirely fix things:

  • If it’s just one person, make friends with everyone else. It’s tougher for someone to hate on you when you have the support of the entire office — particularly if you have the support of your hater’s direct superior.
  • Invite people to take a painting class or learn Zumba. You’ll feel good, and start developing connections outside of the ones that upset you.
  • If it somehow feels like the whole office is against you, well, then it’s more of just a waiting game. What’s the turnover rate like for your work?
  • If it’s likely that you’ll be dealing with these workers for your entire tenure at your job, the only real thing to do at that point is to decide how long you’re comfortable staying for.

Of course, there’s another possible reason that people around you may not like you.

4. Why Do People Hate Me: Signs You’re an Unreasonable Jerk Who Needs to Chill

Look, you know, we get it. People can be annoying.

We’ve all had the experience of working with someone named Greg. And Greg has always been bad.

Pictured: Every Greg.

But just because there are all these Gregs out there in the world, putting fish inside of microwaves and eating unlabeled fridge yogurts, that doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to start taking out every perceived slight on everyone around you.

Because then you’re the office jerk. You’re the one starting drama.

But being the office bully can sometimes sneak up on you. Here are a few signs that you might not be as much of a victim as you think you are:

  • For starters, do you actually do you work? If you’re a lazy or unqualified worker, you might be holding up the success of everyone in the office, or at least making them resent you for doing so little and still collecting a paycheck.
  • Do you tend to overshare, or have stories that never end?
  • Is your music always too loud while you obliviously drum your fingers along your desk?
  • Do you always make cynical, snarky comments without ever providing any positive support or feedback to your coworkers?
  • Seriously, are you the one putting fish in the microwave? Stop it. Stop it right now.

Wrapping Up: How to Deal with Coworkers You Can’t Stand

Again, we want to stress that if you’re being harassed or abused at work, you should come forward and tell someone as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. No one should have to deal with that at their place of work, and there ought to be a process in place for handling those kinds of complaints.

But a lot of times, office disagreements are much more mundane than this. It’s petty sibling kind of stuff, like someone taking up too much space or accidentally eating your food a few too many times.

And, as with siblings, the best tactic to take in cases like this is just to let it all go.

This man gets along with everyone. He squashes beef with both hands like he’s taking a walk. He’s 92 years old and he’ll never die because his beef-free lifestyle extends his life far beyond what modern science can comprehend. Be like him.

If you can find it within yourself to let go of the past and let bygones be whatever the heck bygones are, then you’ll find everything slipping off you like water off a duck’s butt.

And if that’s not enough to keep you calm at the office, just remember that all those idiots in there with you will be dead in the next 50 years anyway and that none of this really matters.

Anyhow, best of luck with the whole “evil coworker” thing! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

My Boss Hates Me: 5 Things You Should Know
Interview Question: Tell Me About a Challenge or Conflict You’ve Faced at Work
Interview Question: How do You Handle Stress and Pressure?

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