Ask HR: You cannot choose your co-workers, learn to work well with them

Friday May 07 2021

You are not at work to make friends. SHUTTERSTOCK

By Nation. Africa

One of my  co-workers who gets very emotional over small matters and uses any information that she hears being said against me by some of my colleagues to irritate me. How best do I handle working with her as I am already developing a distaste for working with her?

Most of your colleagues will never be your friends, what you should therefore aim for is mutual respect that will get the work done. If along the way friendship develops, nurture it  but don’t force it.
You can choose to confront this colleague to find out why she behaves the way she does, especially if this is affecting the workflow in the office. If this fails, you can escalate to your supervisor so that an amicable solution is discussed and agreed on.

The other option is ignoring her emotional outbursts and focusing on your work. One way to minimise gossip in the workplace is setting boundaries between your personal and professional life, this way, your colleagues will have nothing to use against you, though I have to ask why you believe your colleagues gossip about you.

That said, how you react is what matters, choose to see this as a learning curve by testing your patience and tolerance levels when dealing with your colleague. Could her emotional outbursts be triggered by your behaviour towards her? This is a chance to self-examine yourself and check if you also need to improve in the way you relate with her. Unfortunately, you will never get to choose your colleagues, so you have to make do with the ones that you have and learn how to relate with them cordially and professionally.

You could start by listing down some positive attributes that this colleague possesses and choose to focus on them. You might be surprised that once your attitude towards her is more positive, your relationship will most probably improve.

Johari window, is a tool that was invented by Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. It focuses on improving our self-awareness and helps us understand the difference between how individuals see themselves and how others perceive them. Consider using this tool to improve your interpersonal relationship with your colleagues.


Head of HR

Nation Media Group

[email protected]