Three helpful tips on how to connect with a hostile colleague

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I’m sure most of us have been in a situation before where there is a colleague who for some reason or another doesn’t seem to be your fan. This can be extremely challenging in a collaborative environment and make for some very awkward interactions and unnecessary stress. I’ve definitely been in these situations a few times in my career and unfortunately these types of situations are very common in the workplace. They are very often a result of issues or experiences we aren’t aware of and most likely will never get to the bottom of.

The great news is that it’s not necessary to understand the why in order to make a situation work for the both of you. The goal of your relationship is not to become best friends but to have enough respect to have a productive relationship in order to accomplish your goals at work. There are some pretty basic ways to connect that I’ve consistently used that has not only changed the dynamic but forged a friendship in the process.

I would start by inviting your colleague for a chat during a time that works for the both of you. During this chat, make sure to accomplish three things.

  1. Provide assurance

    Make sure your colleague is aware of what your role is within your organization and how you feel you can best support each other. Assure them you are looking to collaborate and would like to find ways to make it productive for the both of you.

  2. Learn about your colleague

    Be inquisitive and ask your colleague about their career and education. Some great questions include how did they get to their current position, how long have they have been with the company and where else have they worked.

  3. Offer assistance

    A great question to ask is what are their current challenges and if there is a way for you to assist them. During your conversation, there might be opportunities for you to offer assistance directly or know a resource that could be helpful to them.

The goal is to listen and engage your colleague. You might be surprised at what you will discover during this chat and how a potentially awkward conversation can turn into an interesting dialogue where you both learn information you would have never known otherwise.

If you have a question or are interested in learning more, connect with me.

RJ Johns