Wouldn’t you love a tutorial on how to work with people you don’t like? Well, in a post at his website, leadership speaker Art Petty presents five strategies for navigating difficult relationships. He shares ways to figure out how to work alongside people without starting a war every time you walk into the office:
- Attempt to reconcile.
- Partner with the adversary to navigate a crisis.
- Engage a broker.
- Create a state of indebtedness.
- Threaten to get MAD.
First, you can attempt to reconcile. The driving force of doing so is recognizing that it would be in the best interest of the business. Using an objective third party to facilitate would be the best way to go. Maybe even consult a professional. This is important to reduce the hostility in the workplace, as well as personal and organizational stress.
You can also partner with the adversary to navigate a crisis. We have all heard the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This ancient proverb suggests that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy. This correlates to the workplace too.
If really needed, you can engage a broker as a go-between. This should only ever be a temporary solution, since it is clearly inefficient. But involving a broker can facilitate progress on certain issues when agreements needs to be made right away.
Another option is to create a state of indebtedness. Killing them with kindness could work. When you provide support or do favors unexpectedly for your adversary, there is the potential to build reciprocity. Doing so requires you to put aside your pride at the risk of being seen as weak, with the greater result of generating eventual reciprocal support.
Lastly, in an extreme situation, you can suggest that mutual assured destruction (MAD) is on the table. Petty warns that this idea may be harmful to your situation, since it is probably a bluff. But you can tell your adversary this:
It appears that we are not on the same page. I am prepared to bring our difference of opinion to the board/executive meeting and as poor as it may be to argue it out in that forum, so be it.
There is no way to tell how this might go. They may call your bluff, but more likely they will default and agree to work on things together.
You can access the original post here: https://artpetty.com/2016/09/24/working-with-the-enemy-5-approaches-for-navigating-difficult-relationships/