Last night on a walk with a close girlfriend, we were talking about how hard it can be to collaborate with someone that drives us nuts. Isn’t it, though? The coworker you can’t stand that you are suddenly partnered with for a big presentation. Or maybe it’s the seemingly perfect neighbor you are paired with to volunteer at school. These already challenging activities can feel like daunting tasks when partnered with someone frustrating.
I have also had my fair share of frustrating partners along the way, and I’ve struggled a lot. But, my friend, I have also gleaned some wisdom to help you make it through with a little less stress and frustration.
Acknowledge You Don’t Click
This part is often hardest for me, because I want everyone to like me. So when I meet someone, and my first gut reaction is “ugh”, I start to feel guilty and try even harder to figure out what it is about her that bothers me, or how I should be more open or forgiving… blah, blah, blah. And it’s also hard to realize that she is also most likely also thinking “ugh” when she talks to me.
But the brutal truth is that we aren’t all supposed to be besties. We aren’t all meant to hang out and align with everyone, and that doesn’t make us bad people. Can you imagine how much work it would be to be friends with EVERYONE? It’s completely ok and normal if you don’t like someone, and it’s completely ok if they don’t really “click” with you. Accept that this isn’t a person in your ‘tribe,’ and move on with those that are.
Accept The Facts
Along with accepting that you aren’t ever going to be good friends, accept the person for who they are. He or she is not going to change for you. If someone is dominant and pushy, he isn’t suddenly going to stop being that way because it’s not your favorite personality type. If someone is much more private and quiet, you aren’t going to suddenly see her appear bubbly and chatty at the next meeting.
We are all so unique, which is what makes us each so beautiful. It’s totally normal that one person’s voice or habit might drive you nuts, but the only one feeling nuts is you. Others probably aren’t as affected, and that means you are the one that needs to settle your internal score and accept the annoyance. They are who they are, and that is ok.
Find the Value
Each one of us has amazing value to bring to each situation, but those strengths are so specific to each one of us. You might be amazing and asking challenging questions, pushing to get huge projects started, or making peace in a conflict-ridden group.
Although you don’t want to admit it, that annoying person also brings something valuable to the table. It could even be something that compliments your strengths… but that is difficult to see when he or she annoys us. There is something, I promise, that you can find about each person’s value.
Make a Choice: Engage or Let it Go
With each relationship, each challenging moment – you have a choice. Option #1: You can have a conversation with that person about the things that bother you to aim for change. This one can feel nearly impossible, but it will bring the issues to the surface and allow you both to discuss how things might change for the better. He might be receptive, and he might not.
The flip side of that option is deciding not to say anything, and avoiding that conversation. This option is completely acceptable, but it is paired with the requirement that you let go of the anger and frustration and move to acceptance. If you decide that you don’t want to tell that person what you are struggling with, then letting it go is all you can do to stay sane. You have to. It’s your only hope.
Ride the Wave
If you can’t accept it, you can’t let it go, and you aren’t going to talk about it with them… your only option is to ride it out. It’s likely things might not have changed, even if you did talk about it. Hopefully, you won’t need to work with this person forever.
When I find myself in this place, I start to view the relationship and interactions like waves in the ocean, and it’s my job to ride them out. Those waves will approach, some bigger and more intense than others, and it’s my job to react. If I can relax and let the comments or actions roll past me, they will not ruin the rest of my day. Like my mom always says, “This too shall pass.”
Take what you can from this. Some of these ideas might royally piss you off, and I get it. It’s sucks to realize we can’t change other people and that we ultimately can only control how we respond. But you CAN do it with practice. As I often say, “Practice makes better.”