What is a good way to professionally work with people who give the vibe of disliking you on a personal level?

Is it a good idea to ask what bug got up someone's behind and died, or should you just ignore it? As someone who has been trying to work with people being difficult for inexplicable reasons, I kind of just want to shelve it as a "them problem" and not a "me problem", and not care.

But I still wonder how much you personally have to do to deal with people who are inexplicably being sullen, unresponsive, rude or dismissive with/of you.

Edit to this question: how do I determine how much of people's bad behavior towards me is caused by my own? Honestly, I am just assuming that I might have done something, but there's nothing that I can think of that wasn't a reaction to someone else's bad behavior. How do I prevent this in the future? I like to prevent as much unnecessary butthurt as I can, and also I just want to get along with people.

If someone or a group of people has decided that they're going to make you a social pariah, how do you deal with it?

  • I will edit, but it's just a reflection of the frustrating environment that I am dealing with – trying2benice Feb 2 '18 at 19:02
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    I don't believe anyone will dislike an individual for no particular reason in a professional workplace. There are few exceptions. There must be something you can think of that you have done or acted that put your relationship with your co-workers sour. – Isaiah3015 Feb 2 '18 at 19:37
  • I've heard that some people at google recently had a few disagreements about politics... – peufeu Feb 2 '18 at 19:39
  • @Isaiah3015: I completely agree with that. If I reflect on my behavior, I can think of instances when my behavior was less than perfect. But I am not going to pretend like I did something unforgivable or so out of bounds that it should make me a social pariah, which is what I practically am right now. Additionally, I am not going to pretend that everyone else's behavior was always perfect and without flaw. – trying2benice Feb 2 '18 at 20:19
  • "nothing that I can think of that wasn't a reaction to someone elses bad behavior." Do you often react to others bad behavior? – user76296 Feb 2 '18 at 21:38

What is a good way to professionally work with people who give the vibe of disliking you on a personal level?

Although this may sound a bit rhetorical, the way to handle this is to keep it professional when discussing and cooperating with work-related matters, but on a personal level try not to engage or relate yourself with such coworkers.

I sympathize with you in a way, as I also like to know my coworkers better and relate with them beyond the limits of strictly professional attitudes. This strengthens the cohesion of teams and may help performance.

However, you have to know when to draw the line with some people. Sometimes it's just not worth it to constantly try to please them or try to know what you may be doing wrong to make them be like that.

Seems to me that you are being professional enough, and also decent enough for thinking that this may be a problem with you. For your own sake, I suggest you shelve this as "them problem" and carry on. Who knows, perhaps they are having a bad day (or week, or month... just move on).

  • I get it, and that answers the question I have here. I guess a different question would be why and how a group of people decides that someone is going to be the social pariah, and freeze them out or just don't try to get to know them. It's hard not to take this personally, and I am just left wondering whose puppy I killed to deserve this. I just don't know how much of this to attribute to myself and my behavior, I just know that I am constantly on egg shells with these people. – trying2benice Feb 2 '18 at 20:25
  • Sorry to hear that @trying2benice , perhaps something that happened before that involved those coworkers you mention made things like these to "them". Still, some people are just hard to deal with, so don't break your head and mood on some few problematic individuals. – DarkCygnus Feb 2 '18 at 21:22
  • Can you elaborate on this? "perhaps something that happened before that involved those coworkers you mention made things like these to "them"." – trying2benice Feb 3 '18 at 0:25
  • @trying2benice has your relationship always been lile this? Maybe you had a dispute on the past that is still sore or unresolved. – DarkCygnus Feb 3 '18 at 1:24

Despite my online handle here, I'm actually very personable, so tend to be friendlier than most where I work and it took fully a year to get to know some of my coworkers to the point where I have a personal as well as a professional behavior.

You need to take time, assume good intent, ignore anything rude and remain professional.

Now, the easiest way to get people to stop being a pariah:

Ask the ones who seem to like you the least for help. Sound strange?

It's an old trick, but asking for help is a way to get people to like you. If you help someone, you put it into your mind that that person is worthy of help. Therefore, it resets the mindset of the person from thinking of you as an enemy/pariah into someone who is at least worth helping. From there, you can build to friendlier relations.

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    I would add to this great answer that being fair and giving credit where credit is due also works well. If you have noticed that someone dislikes you, so have your coworkers. When you then compliment that person's work publicly, it is very disarming and lets people know the problem is on that person;s side not yours. – HLGEM Feb 2 '18 at 21:51
  • Actually, I am pretty sure if I was to ask for help, they would disparage me across the company as someone who doesn't have any skills or can't do their job. I don't think I want to make nice with these people, they are beyond this the more I think about it. Why are they doing this to someone who didn't do any harm to them? As things are now, I just want to know why people act this way so I can mitigate such things in the future. – trying2benice Feb 3 '18 at 0:34

The important thing: Normal behavior of normal people means that some(!) people won't like you.

If you are really disagreeable, you will encounter general animosity in every firm you are working and this is a sure sign that you are violating social standards. This also means you need to check your behavior and work it over (counselor, therapy etc. etc.).

But the normal case is that some people like you, some are indifferent and some don't like you, the ratio depends how good-looking, charming and social adept you are. There are many reasons why someone does not like you:

  • You screwed (unknowingly) up. You forgot to greet, you critized someone who is liked by person, whatever. The person believes you did something wrong.

  • They are projecting former bad experiences, hated persons or stereotypes on you. Those are easiest to fix over time when other persons unknowingly praise or defend you which grudgingly forces the people to find out who you are. But there is no guarantee, some people will cling to their dislike.

  • Fundamentally incompatibility. Strong rational people are often clashing with strong emotional people. The emotional people cannot "read" or influence rational ones (signs they are believe sending are ignored) and rational ones are angered by the response which is from their viewpoint counterproductive and not addressing the problem. There need not to be really animosity, but every time you hear you need to work or talk with the person, your body responds with headaches.

  • Fundamental dislike. This is the worst form, you see each other the first time, and well, microseconds later one person (or honestly, nearly always both persons) have a new enemy.

The strategy depends on what you are dealing with.

  • The mutual talk: If you have the feeling that you screwed up (the dislike seems to appear suddenly), think hard. If you cannot find the source, ask your good contacts cautiously to try to find out what the person believed what you did. No accusations, no bad talk, only research. Once you found it out, ask the person if you could have a short talk under four eyes(!). If the person accepts without batting an eye, yeah, you did something wrong, but it is a good sign because the person is willing to talk. Another good sign is if the person is genuinely surprised, it is likely that person is fuming at something completely different and you were the lightning rod. If you have the talk, be very, very friendly and apologize if necessary. If the person rejects the talk, retreat silently. In this talk I really recommend not to be too professional, but show that you care. I do not recommend the mutual talk with the bad-image/stereotype type, first try using time to soften the dislike and let others work for you. In the case of fundamental incompatibility a mediator whom you both like and who is able to be quiet may be necessary. Do not even try this in case of fundamental dislike.

  • Avoidance: The person rejected the talk or you even do not try it (for good reason). Be polite and professional. If the other person also reacts this way, you could coexist together (you would be surprised how razor-sharp polite people who dislike each other can be), but other people will know in short time that you both...are a bit complicated. From that on it simply could go on for years. You don't bend over if you get an assignment from THAT PERSON, but you won't sabotage it either and vice versa.

  • The not-so-friendly talk: Because you are the corteous person, you won't be on the other side of the table, won't you? Because the other person is not satisfied with having only dislike, but acting on it unprofessionally. Starting spreading bad rumors. Sabotage and start mobbing against you. If you have confirmation that something like that is happening, you must act immediately: Start a paper trail and collect evidence what is happening. Inform the persons you are really, really sure(!) to be friendly that they should inform you if they get bad messages about you or have seen something working against you. Also inform family, friends and your therapist that you could have a hard time. DO NOT TRY TO IGNORE IT OR BE ASHAMED OF IT. The thing is once the person is aware that you fully aware of what they are doing and you are ready the point the light on their actions, it is very likely that the actions immediately cease. If the actions do not stop or being tried to continue undercover, for all but the fundamental dislike (in this case continue immediately to the next step) you are having now the not-so-nice-talk. It really depends how firm you are, but if you are unsure I really recommend a witness. You inform the person about the evidence and state that if this what you have is true there will be legal and workplace repercussions if this behavior continues. Do not discuss if the evidence is true, if it wasn't meant this way, anything. Simple state the fact that the person gives the impression to violate boundaries and there will be consequences if this persists.

  • HR/boss intervenes: If the type fundamentally dislikes you or the aggression persists, you are now going the official way and start a complaint. You are telling the evidence, point out that this is unacceptable behavior and this must stop. You are absolutely willing to find a compromise and you really don't want trouble, but if nothing is done, you will go upward or act with consequences if this persist. Normally a stern talk with you and the person will now follow and in this case it is necessary that you set up boundaries in writing. Not the "We-are-friends-again" handshake, but something which sets objective boundaries what both persons are willing to do to solve the conflict. This is also important for legal repercussions.

  • Leave:: In the best of worlds, justice will prevail. The ugly truth is that the person who has higher social ranking in the firm normally wins. Cut your losses, it is not worth fighting for months, once it is clear that the conflict won't cease, quit as fast as possible. Social battles will leave scars, this is not worth it and won't be any good in the future.

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