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.
As everyone knows, there are many popular varieties of office beef, including (but not limited to):
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.
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…
However, there are a few exceptions to these guidelines, where for one reason or another diplomacy is no longer an option. For example…
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:
Of course, there’s another possible reason that people around you may not like you.
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:
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: