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How to Handle Personality Clashes

By Emma Tee on

For years now we have watched Susanna Reid roll her eyes at Piers Morgan, morning after morning, and we can honestly say that we do not know how she has coped for the past 6 years!

Although there may be occasional eye rolls here at AF, overall we are incredibly fortunate in the fact that we all do genuinely like, perhaps even love, each other. Hugs are mandatory before a holiday, and throughout the years we have kept each other propped up when times got tough. So, we are aware of how lucky we are that we don’t spend the 261 days we are at work wishing the person sitting next to us would just be quiet and sit in hope that they hand in their resignation. 

Though unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone. Sometimes you can have a fantastic job that you adore, with a top-notch culture and a benefits package that leaves your friends asking ‘How do I get a job there?’, but there is one person that you just don’t gel with. And that is fine, as we get older we realise that not everyone is going to be your cup of tea, and you’re not going to be to other people’s tastes either, but how you handle that in a working environment is really important and can make a difference to the 8 hours a day that you spend at work. 

We also think it’s important to note here that we aren’t talking about a toxic person who is having a severely detrimental effect on the team or company as a whole, we are talking about a personality clash, where the two of you just don’t mix.

If, like Susanna, you are continually irked while at work and spend your time looking like you can’t wait to get home for some peace and quiet, it’s important that you’re equipped with the tools to help you handle the situation as professionally and amicably as possible. Conflicts at work can be a challenge, but before you act, it’s important to remember that every person’s perspective is valid, even if you don’t necessarily agree.

With that in mind, we hope that the below tips can help you handle the situation as best as you can:

  • Reflect: Rather than heading straight to other team members to tell them how much your colleague is irritating you and listing all the things they’ve said and done, spend some time reflecting on why they make you feel that way. Is it you that is making the situation more difficult than it needs to be? Have they pushed you to a point where everything they do and say annoys you, even if they’ve not particularly done anything wrong? 
  • Accept: It’s easier said than done, but if you can accept your colleague for who they are, and are able to be the bigger person, act with kindness and understanding, it may help diffuse the situation. Ask yourself, what can I do to make it better? 
  • Focus: Focus on your colleague and their strengths. There is good in all people (well almost all, there are obvious exceptions to the rule!), but do try to focus on the things they bring to the team – different perspectives and personalities sometimes create the best work and the best teams. Concentrate on what they bring to the team, and how you can cooperate with them in a work sense.
  • Communicate: If you’ve done all of the steps above and are still feeling deflated maybe it’s time to talk to your colleague, and not in a reactive sense. Don’t jump down their throat if they’ve eaten the last biscuit or said something outlandish for the 40th time today! Act calmly and politely at all times, but discuss your differences. Ask them if there is anything that you can do to make things better, listen to their ideas, come up with a solution together. If it doesn’t work out and you end up with your blood boiling, you’re within your right to walk away, and we’re not saying storm out like Piers… agree to disagree and walk away with your head held high. 
  • Help: If nothing can be resolved, then do take it higher and discuss the issues you are having with management or HR. They may be able to mediate the situation and agree on a plan that you can both work towards. They may also be able to help resolve the situation by moving your or your colleague to different teams or ask you to work on different projects. 

A note to end on, it’s always best to try and handle the situation and resolve the issues at hand. Work through the points before you decide to jump ship on a whim!