Oil and vinegarIn part I of this article, we learned about the disheartening number of people who don’t like their co-workers. While there may occasionally be productivity draining negative behaviors in your dealership that need to be addressed, there are also times when the problem is nothing more than a personality clash.

Think of “oil and vinegar” – neither cooking liquid is doing anything wrong, but they just don’t ever completely mix.  However, this doesn’t mean they can’t work together.  Combine them in the right proportions, season and shake, and VOILA – they’ve come together temporarily to create a delicious salad dressing or marinade.  Look – even the word “voila” has a “v” for vinegar and “oil” in it…coincidence?  Maybe.

Point being…sometimes there are two people who each work hard and do great things, but just don’t mix well for whatever reason.  If you currently work with a kitchen designer or salesperson, or heck…even a manager who for whatever reason seems bitter or harsh, leaves a bad taste in your mouth or whose personality is just plain hard to swallow, make the best of your situation by being the slick, smooth person you are.

Here are some things to do to make sure you don’t let your co-worker’s conflicting personality get in the way of your productivity.

  • Take a different perspective – If there is someone you can’t stand, it often helps to take a step back and try to understand why they are the way they are.  Underneath that persona may be a person who was mistreated, made fun of or even abused their whole life.  Maybe they’re going through a tough time.  Why not be someone who helps them to see that there are good people in this world.
  • Don’t be so defensive – Is it really that bad?  Sure, I know you’re annoyed, but instead of letting one person ruin your day, find humor in the situation and be glad you don’t live with them.  If you’re working on a design and they tell you you’re not doing it the best way, listen to them.  Ask them to show you a better way to do it…it may be a waste of time, or you may actually learn something.
  • Don’t gossip – this is one of the worst things you could do.  Gossip doesn’t resolve anything, and in fact, it can make you lose your job.  And for goodness sake, don’t say anything to or around customers.  The customer just wants a new kitchen…not drama.  If you bring them into your problems, they may wonder if a company who can’t control their employees will be able to control all aspects of their kitchen remodel.  Be professional.
  • Be prepared – if your co-worker is argumentative, prepare a slew of professional responses to predictable situations before they arise.   When something comes as a surprise, you’re more likely to react in a childish manor, but work through them before they even exist and you’ll be a seasoned veteran.
  • Pause for thought – remember to pause and take a breath before responding to someone you don’t like.  The extra moment will give you a second to re-think your initial comment.  Were you just about to disagree with them for the sake of disagreeing?
  • Don’t add fuel to the fire – If someone starts pestering you with negative views, you don’t have to stoop to their level.  Remember that you’re ultimately there to work and help your dealership be successful, so ask yourself if the issue is worth risking your career.
  • Help them – Maybe there is a reason they’re annoying.  Do they constantly ask you the same questions over and over?  Help them by going through the answer step by step.  It may seem like an easy task to you, but perhaps they just need a little more guidance before the lightbulb goes off.
  • Move yourself – If this person is in close proximity to you, it may help to find a new working area.  If you can’t easily move departments (and it doesn’t look like management will move them) ask to be seated in a different office area to ensure productivity.  Explain the situation to management and there is a good chance they’ll be sympathetic.  If not, maybe this isn’t a place you want to work for anymore.

Sure, it is easy to blame your co-workers for your bad day, but why not try to avoid doing so?  Whether you’re stuck with an interrupter, a constant question asker, a know it all, a negative Nancy or a debator, think about the person and the way you interact with them, and chances are there is a better way to deal.   If your co-worker is vinegar, be the oil in the situation, not the baking soda… Always act professionally and look toward the bigger picture – don’t blow everything out of proportion or not only will you be hurting them, but also your career.