An unfriendly coworker is never the first choice for a colleague, but what can you do if you find yourself working with someone unpleasant or downright miserable? There is an amicable, even joyful way to share and relish in responsibilities as coworkers. However, when work becomes stressful, it can be conducive to disagreements. Feelings can be hurt during competition, but each coworker must rise above differences and find common ground for the sake of their business goals. Working as teammates requires practice and patience. By emphasizing the company and clients’ interests, shared responsibility can positively affect everyone. 

A coworking relationship requires respect for one another and a willingness to compromise. Cultivating a mindset that focuses on the bigger picture is critical. It is the ultimate practice of mindfulness and maintaining composure even in difficult times. Although it requires mutual effort, you can foster a coworking mindset to achieve joyful professional experiences. 

Teamwork as professionals

Teamwork is when two people mutually take responsibility for the progression of a business. They must find alignment for the benefit of the company or client. Hostile separated coworkers can create a chaotic and sometimes unprofessional environment for other coworkers (or even clients!) to endure. Teamwork as fully independent parties can kill efficiencies and confuse a client. For the sake of the entire firm, you can achieve a healthy and respectful relationship with your coworker in the following steps.

Find a way to heal after conflict

Continuing a working relationship after a conflict requires mutual effort. First, both parties should let go of all the reasons they both became upset so that no sore feelings are in the way of the workflow. Developing this peace could include leadership, counseling, therapy, or other modalities of healing. You may feel angry, and it may feel awkward initially, but you are just laying down the foundation of stability and security for your professional goals. 

Communicate with kindness

Disagreements on work ethic or style will happen but keep debates related to the topic at hand. Never make it personal or dig up old drama. If you find yourself bringing up old issues, you need to revisit the healing process and let go. Keep your hurt feelings out of discussions about work. You both will benefit from the conflict resolving respectfully. Communicate as a team after debating and always keep a unified front for clients. It is not professional for a coworker to be disrespectful in front of a client. That is not a good customer experience. If something is bothering you about your coworker, talk to them right away; do not let it fester. The discussion will help relieve tension and create a new relationship of understanding. 

Same team mentality

Both coworkers should hold the same ground rules to create consistency for the business. Maintaining regularity will create stability and structure. Agree upon procedures, projects, deadlines, and communication strategies. Clients will benefit from the uniformity. Working styles may be different but try to align on as many values and daily logistics as possible. 

Don’t use your boss as the messenger

Do not let the boss be the only source of information on what is happening in each other’s to-do lists. When you speak with each other, do not just share the bare minimum. Communicate everything your team knows to your coworker to keep them in the loop. The more you are open and honest with one another, the stronger the trust will grow. Trust can be difficult to maintain depending on the conflict circumstances, but it is essential to develop this confidence for coworking to succeed. For example, if you decide to change your workflow, tell your coworker, don’t let them find out through the boss. If this change is significant enough to inform your boss, your coworker should know about it. 

Speak kindly of one another

Never, under any circumstances, badmouth your coworker to a client. Instead, speak kindly of one another to your client to foster healthy relationships. Badmouthing only causes tension and confusion for the client. No one is “good” or “bad” in your company; you are simply professionals doing the job. Speaking negatively about someone else only makes you look bad. On the other hand, when you share compliments about your coworker with the client, the client will see a positive company culture and respect the brand for it. 

Be available

Keep yourself accessible to the other. Pick up your coworker’s calls and email or text them back to create a healthy environment for discussion. If the frequency or timing is inappropriate, tell your coworker your boundaries. Both parties must feel respected for this to work.

Be compassionate

Being flexible and cooperative with one another helps to maintain peace and stability for the company. It may be necessary to make sacrifices sometimes. Consider the feelings of each other. Being rigid and uncooperative only makes it harder on both of you, not to mention everyone else around you. Tension creates negativity amongst teams.

Remember the product

It is important to remember what initially attracted and connected you to the company to get over your disdain from the conflict. Be grateful to work on a product you love with a team. Though your team has changed with the times, the mission is still there. Tap into that when you feel anger arise to ensure that no harsh words pass that cannot be unsaid or unheard. 

Be a team 

After a conflict always seek peace and not victory. Keep the team as stable as possible. Acknowledge special occasions and birthdays to respect life experiences. Being flexible with schedules allows the coworker to enjoy important moments in their life. In time, it may be possible to do things all together and let the entire team share some events as a family. Never be rigid and inflexible to the point of making things unenjoyable or unpleasant for the entire team. 

Fake it till you make it

Always take the high road. You cannot control what your coworker says or does to you, but you can manage your responses. No matter how difficult it may be, always be the bigger person. If you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all. Do not engage in disputes that do not achieve anything. You have a job to do, so gear your conversations around that. Each discussion should have the objective of informing the other coworker on the news or making a decision about the company. Perception becomes a reality, so it might feel fake to be friendly; but you may feel like friends in time. 

The bottom line

Although it requires mutual effort, you can foster a coworking mindset to achieve professional experiences. Practice being on the same team, never against one another. Be patient with the process; nothing happens overnight. Continually remind yourself to emphasize the team’s well-being; this will keep perspectives moving forward rather than dwelling in the past. With mindful respect and sharing in company goals, you can make your coworking relationship pleasant at the very least and maybe even become friends. 

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