What do you do if someone at work hates you? MR CORPO gies a simple 3 step process on how to defuse and disarm your enemies in the workplace.
If Someone Hates You At Work
JUSTIN: I don't care what you say, you keep talking, talking every day. First you're telling stories, then you're telling lies. When the fuck are you gonna realize that I don't wanna hear it? All this bullshit, I don't wanna hear it. All this bullshit, I don't wanna hear it.
JUSTIN: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. Today's episode is gonna be kind of fun. We are talking about what to do if someone at work doesn't like you. You know what I'm talking about. There's always someone. There's a co-worker, a cross-functional partner on a different team. Maybe it's even your boss, maybe it's your boss's boss. The point is, there's always someone who doesn't like you. So we're gonna talk about what do you do about it.
Now, there's three steps. There's three things I want you to take away from this. Step one is, you need to think. Step two is, you need to talk to people. And step three is, you need to talk to the person who doesn't like you. Now, let's jump right into it and get to step one.
JUSTIN: Think about why they don't like you. The first thing to do is to figure out who doesn't like you, and then think about why they don't like you. You have to be honest with yourself, you have to take responsibility. This isn't something where you can just blame, everything is the other person's fault. You've got to do an honest assessment of, "Did I do something to really piss this person off? Did I do something that would justify them not liking me? Is there anything I could have done that could have caused this situation?" You have to have an honest self-assessment. That's the first thing you need to do.
Now, there's two ways this can go. The number one way is, you know why they don't like you. It's very clear, you remember the interaction, you know exactly when you pissed them off and made them not like you. The second way this can go is, you have no idea whatsoever. It seems totally random. You've given the person no reason whatsoever to not like you, and yet they don't like you. Maybe it's personal. Maybe it's professional, maybe it's political. Maybe it's jealousy, who knows. But you have no idea.
Alright. Those are the two options. Now, if it's option one, you know why, then your task is easy. Now, go address it directly with the person. Whatever the situation, no matter what, you have to take responsibility for the situation. Even if it was a 50/50 responsibility, you have to decide, I am gonna take the higher ground. I am going to take responsibility for whatever has passed between us, and I'm gonna be the bigger person, so to speak.
So what you wanna do is, you wanna set up a quick meeting. Ask for just five minutes of their time. Now, the reason it's important to only ask for five minutes of their time is, you don't want to make this a big deal. Asking for 30 minutes of their time, they might be able to say no. But anyone, anywhere, anytime can always spare five minutes. So ask this person for five minutes. When they say why, just say, "Hey, I wanna catch up on something. I'd prefer to speak in private." There's no politicking, there's no couching, there's no excuses, just be honest.
Here's what I want you to say: "Something's been bothering me, and I really wanted to talk about it with you. I can sense that we're really ot on the same page, or maybe you don't even like me. But I wanted to own up to my role in all of it and see if we can work things out. I'm not sure if this is even right or wrong, but I felt like things changed when..." (dot, dot, dot.) You identify the specific situation. Then you go on to say, "I'm sorry. I'd like to move forward together, and more than that, I just wanted to sit and listen, if there's anything I can do to help solve this, or improve our situation, or our relationship." Boom. That's it.
You see what we did there? The first thing we did was, we were honest. We said, there's something bothering me. The second thing that you did is, you were honest again. You said, maybe you don't like me. You've taken this to an extreme. It's good to say, maybe you don't like me, so that you expanded the rubber band so far out that hey, maybe they don't like you, but even acknowledging that may be the case, everything back in between will feel less extreme than that. So it's a good thing to do. The third thing you've done is, you identified the issue, the dot, dot, dot. You've tried to take a stab at, here's what I think might have gone wrong. So you've put that out there, you've owned that. Number four, you apologized. You said, I'm sorry. You humbled yourself. The next thing that you did, number five, you listened. You offered yourself up and you said, I want to listen to you. I'm giving you a chance to talk.
Now, here's what's gonna happen. 05:00 One of three things in this situation. Number one, you're gonna have a genuine misunderstanding. And it's gonna be resolved, and you're gonna be nice to each other. That's the best case scenario. You confronted it, you removed the roadblock, you removed the thing that was bothering you, and now you go on with your lives and there's nothing between you. Number two, you were wrong. Maybe you thought it was this thing, but actually it was this other thing. And by giving the person an invitation to say that thing, now at least you're aware of it, number one, and number two, they got to talk about it, and now once it's out in the open, it's easy to solve anything, okay? So now they got a chance to explain it, that's to your benefit also. Now, the third thing that might happen is, you run up into a stone wall. The person says, "I don't know what you're talking about, I don't know what's going on, why are you even bringing this up, what's your problem?" Now, if it's number three, then you need to step back, you say, "Thank you for your time, I just wanted a chance to try and talk to you." And then guess what? You need to go to step two and step three, which we're about to talk about, cause that's a whole different animal that you're dealing with there, if they can't take this conversation in kind and try and help to work it out with you, okay?
Now, I kinda skipped ahead there, because I wanna go back to the original step one, which is thinking about what they don't like about you. We just talked about what to do if you do know why they don't like you. But what if you can't think of the specific reason that they don't like you? What if you've given them no reason to dislike you? What if they still persist in not liking you? What if you've never talked to them and they don't like you? What if you've never even looked at them and they don't like you? What then? Then, what do you do? Sometimes it can feel like they only exist to try and make you unhappy, to belittle you, to undermine you, to disagree with you. It's a really disheartening feeling.
If you're in this situation, it's time to proceed to step two: talk to people. Step two is simple. Talk to other people. At this point, your goal is two-fold. Number one, you want to genuinely figure out what the issue might be. Maybe other people around you know what it is, and you're just oblivious to it. That's your first goal. The second goal in talking to people is, you want to build your network. You want to raise visibility to your honest effort to try to figure this out. You want people to see you honestly trying to solve this issue. And you also want to claim the higher ground.
Okay, so here's what I want you to do. Start small, and go big. The first thing you need to do? Talk to one of your friends at work. Sure, you must have someone where that you confide in or you consider a friend. Ask your friend first, just say, "I don't know why this person hates me, but I think they hate me. What do you think?" And get a temperature check from them. Hopefully they'll be honest with you and they'll say, "You know what, I think it's cause you snort your nose every time that they're around and they really don't like people that snort their nose." Who knows? Maybe they don't like people who wear Converse shoes, and you wear converse shoes. At least you know what it is. But chances are, you may not know why they don't like you, but maybe other people do. So you talk to your friend. It's innocent to ask a co-worker and just say, "Hey, you know what, I seem to not be having a good relationship with this person. Do you have any insights? Is there something I'm doing? Is there anything you know, why they might be upset at me?"
After you talk to your co-worker, you wanna go talk to your boss. Bosses love to be asked for advice. It's very flattering for them, and it's also good for you. Now, I'm assuming obviously this isn't your boss who hates you. But it very well may be your boss who hates you. In that case, skip this step. But in most cases, go to your boss and say, "Hey, I'm honestly, wholeheartedly trying to figure this out. I seem to have a bad relationship with this person. Do you have any experience with this person, any advice to give me?" That's a great place to start. And again, you want to keep your boss on your side, so this is a very useful thing.
You also want to go talk to HR. I think those reasons would be self-evident. The goal here is, let all of those people around you, all those people who work with you, let them know that you're honestly trying to figure out what's going on. Now, remember, you have two goals: one, you're trying to figure out the issue. Does anyone else know? Hopefully one of these people has said, "Oh my gosh, yeah, that person told me they didn't like you because of X." Now, maybe that's gonna be the case. Most of the time, that's not gonna happen. So your second goal in talking to other people is claiming higher ground.
Now, by going around and talking to other people about your desire to have a good relationship with this person, you're accomplishing multiple benefits. The obvious one is, you're claiming high moral ground of trying to resolve the issue. Nobody can hate you for that. That's a good thing. 09:58 The second thing you're doing, which is less obvious, is you're subtly talking shit on the other person without talking shit on them. Cause here's the thing: you're genuinely just trying to solve this topic. It's not about you versus them. This is all about them. Look at the injustice of this. You're a good person, you're trying to solve this, and they won't let it be solved. This has an undermining effect on the other person, while helping you claim that higher ground.
Now, another less obvious thing that you're doing here is, you're raising awareness, and at the same time, you're building your network. What I mean by this is that maybe everyone else doesn't realize that the person has it out for you. Maybe they experience each criticism, or each comment that this person makes towards you as simple a counterpoint. Maybe they don't see what's really going on. But here's the thing: by making everyone aware that this person doesn't like you or they have it out for you, you're successfully re-framing the way everyone else, co-workers, bosses, HR, anyone else, you're re-framing the way that they view the person's next criticism or mean email towards you. Now, when they see that mean email or that criticism or that comment that wasn't so nice, they're gonna see it as a weak, pathetic vendetta against you. And in so doing, you've not only claimed the higher ground, you've also influenced everyone else's interpretation of the other person's comment. You are winning.
Now, I just went through all the benefits of talking to people, but let me take a step back and actually tell you how to talk to people. Because how you talk to people will have a make-or-break influence on how this whole thing goes. This can't be you trying to overtly rally people to your side. This will not work. You cannot approach this as, I'm building my army of supporters, and I'm openly trying to wage war against this other person. If it becomes a popularity contest between you and the other person, it just doesn't end well. Yours is a more subtle battle. And that's why these conversations have to be taken in the right way. You have to be humble, you have to take responsibility, if there's any reason you might have caused this rift, and you need to ask for advice. Be genuine. This is a human-to-human interaction, and if you're seen as trying to be manipulative or figure things out or triangulate, people aren't gonna naturally be drawn to you. So you wanna be honest, you wanna be forthcoming, that's why you want to humble yourself and ask for advice. This is a battle of hearts and minds.
Okay. Now, step one, you had to think about it. Step two, you had to talk about it. Step three, you have to address it directly. You have to talk about it with the person who doesn't like you. This is the moment of truth. This issue will never resolve itself if you don't address it. It will always nag at you. It's dead weight. Let it go. Get rid of it. Address the issue, address the person directly.
Now, the good news is, you've already gathered information and perspective from other people, so you should be feeling good. Now, as I've already mentioned, keep it simple. Ask the person for five minutes, say something's bothering you, say you wanna fix it. Say you're open to all solutions, say you're here to take responsibility, if you've done something wrong. Ask what you can do to improve the relationship. Put the ball in their court. Even by asking for the meeting, you've already won. You've already accomplished your goal.
But here's the thing. One of three things is gonna come of this meeting. Number one, they're gonna tell you directly something specifically that you've done that's bothered them. That's great! Even if it's a hurtful thing, even if it's something you didn't realize, even if it's something you did realize, even if it's something you don't agree with, it's great that they've told you what bothers them. Information is power. This is a great thing. Once you know what it is, you can always resolve it. I'll let you go resolve it. That's the first thing that can happen. The second thing that can happen is, maybe they aren't sure why they don't like you. Maybe even they don't realize they don't like you, but their behavior is just like that. And in this case, it's good to have talked about it, because you're getting it out in the open, and you've drawn attention to it, and you've said, "I notice." You've also said, "I'm a human being, and you've hurt my feelings. And I don't wanna live like this." And at the point of human-to-human interaction, even though it's a confrontation, they're always gonna respond positively to the idea of, you're coming to me like a human, you're coming to me, which I respect, let's talk about it. And even the biggest bullies, when you get behind closed doors, are actually pretty soft and nice on the inside. For the most part.
15:00 Now, the third thing that might happen, and this is the dangerous one, is: they're gonna look at you and go, "What are you talking about?" This is a full-frontal denial. When you're faced with that, that means that you're arguing with a snake in the grass. A truly, truly evil person. I mean, you've humbled yourself. You've been honest. And they can't meet you there. If that's the case, this is their problem. The team, your boss, your boss's boss, your HR, your mentor, all of those people are gonna be on your side. You've done the right thing. You've isolated this dangerous person and you've highlighted it to everyone around them that this is an issue not between you and the other person. This is an issue of that other person.
Now, at this point there's two things that you need to do. First, you need to quietly circle back to everyone you talked with and let them know the outcome. You know, if it's number one, you say, "Hey, just wanna let you know I talked to so-and-so, we figured it out, and I really appreciate your partnership in letting me talk with you." Everyone's gonna feel good about that, they know it's resolved, and everyone will look at you and say, "Wow, this is someone who addresses issues and is able to get over them." If it's the second one, you can also say, "Thanks for letting me talk to you. We were able to talk it through. It was some surprising new stuff, but ultimately we got to the bottom of it." If it's the third one, if it's a snake in the grass, if you're dealing with a truly, truly evil person, even then, you wanna circle back with everyone else and say, "Hey, just want to let you know, I tried to talk to this person and they just stonewalled me and said there's no issue and they didn't want to talk to me anymore, so I'm really not sure what to do, but I wanted to at least let you know where it all ended."
Now, what you're doing by circling back is letting everyone else know how should they feel about you, how should they feel about the other person, and how should they think of this person as they look at every future interaction between the two of you. You're basically setting up people to take sides without openly making people pick sides. That's a very important element. Now, if you try and turn this into a popularity contest, you've lost the moral high ground. This cannot be a popularity contest.
Alright, now, I said the first thing you do is circle back with people. That's what we just did. The second thing I want you to do? Say a prayer for this person. This person is so insecure, this person is so unhappy, this person is so pathetic, that they need to put other people down to make themselves feel good. And you know what? The next time you see them, give them your biggest smile. Laugh at whatever they say. Just a little chuckle, just a little aside, smile. Kill them with kindness. You don't fight a bully by mean-facing them. You don't fight a bully by threatening to fight them. That's the language that they talk. The way that you fight a bully is, you stand in a circle with a bunch of other people and you point at them and you start laughing. They start crying, they start running home, and you see that soft, vulnerable, pathetic, insecure person standing in front of you. So just smile, just laugh. Every mean thing they say to you from now on, you have the higher ground. And they know it. You tried to confront this issue, you tried to speak with them directly. Everyone else is aware of it. At this point, they're only digging themselves deeper. So you've won the battle, whether they realize it or not. That's everything I have to say about this topic.
But I'm gonna tell you right now, I'm facing this exact situation at work, and I made a huge mistake. I did not confront this person directly. Instead, I chose to say, "You know what, they're not worth my time, I don't really like this person, I'll just not be around them. I'll try and avoid them as much as possible." This has been going on for more than two years, and I can tell you, I am absolutely losing the battle. I still think about this person. That other person has been able to influence other people to now be against me, because I didn't take these steps of letting people know there seems to be some issue, for no reason I can understand. I'm losing the battle though, I didn't take my own advice. I'm kicking myself now. In fact, it's resulted in tangible things being taken away from me, or opportunities being blocked from me.
So don't be like me, but do take my advice. Get out there, think about why this person might not like you. Talk to other people, figure it out. And then the third thing is, talk to them directly, okay? It's as simple as that.
JUSTIN: But guess what? We have a bonus section today!
ROB: Oh, yeah.
JUSTIN: 19:56 Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section, I love you! Bonus section. Today's bonus section comes to you from one of our listeners. I can't remember his name, maybe his name is Ben, I can't remember, but I do know it's the boyfriend of Casey. So boyfriend of Casey, this one's a shoutout to you. Now Casey, if you have more than one boyfriend, this is gonna cause a lot of problems at home, and I'm sorry for that. But boyfriend of Casey wrote to me and said, "My boss is taking the credit for all the work that I do. What do I do about this?"
Well, you should do the exact same thing that I just talked about in this episode. You need to sit down and think about, why is this person taking all the credit for what I do? What's behind it? Is it mean-spirited? Is the person oblivious? Or what's going on? Depending to your answer of whether you think they're doing it on purpose or they're doing it by accident, we'll determine what's going on. If you think they're doing it by accident, confront them and just say, "Hey, I just -- I can't help but feel like this. What do you think? How do we work together, right?" You wanna take the edge off of this.
If you think they're mean-spirited, trying to steal all the credit for everything you're doing, this is what you need to do. You need to go around and talk to everybody and say, "Hey, I'm having this experience, does anyone else feel this way, or how did you deal with this?" Cause likely other co-workers might feel the same way, and maybe one of them has a winning formula for why that person doesn't take their credit for their work. So figure out if someone else has a way to solve this. If it's your boss, talk to HR. If it's your boss's boss, talk to your boss. Talk to the different people that are surrounding this situation, and build up your network. Let them know this is something that's on your mind, and figure it out.
And then the third thing is, you know what? I think it is appropriate to sit down with the person and just say, "Hey, there's something that's been on my mind, and it's bothered me a little bit. I don't know if maybe I'm just being sensitive, but my feeling was, you know, I did a lot of work on that. And then at this critical moment, I felt like you jumped in and maybe, you know, took a lot of the credit for it. And I'm just wondering, you know, what can we do to make sure that this gets on equal ground?" You're going to completely disarm them. Most likely, they're going to retreat so quickly, you've never seen someone backpedal so fast. They're gonna be like, "No, no, no, that's not what I was doing! What I meant to do was this. I was just trying to say that it was important, or I did it, or things like that."
Whatever the reaction is, it actually doesn't matter in this case. The point is, you've put them on notice that you are paying attention, and you're gonna be watching them the next time. And guess what? Unless they are a totally evil snake in the grass person, they're gonna be way more careful, and they're gonna be way more reticent to try and steal credit for the work that you do. It's as simple as having that conversation. Yes, yes, yes, it may be a little bit awkward in that moment. Yes, you might be nervous about confronting the person. And this isn't in the hallway yelling them down. It just says, "Hey, can I have five minutes? I want to talk to you about something." You say it, you say your piece, you listen to them, whatever excuses they throw at you, get it out of the way, and then go on with your life, okay? That's how you're gonna make this happen. That's how you're gonna solve this issue.
Now, Casey's boyfriend, give me a call back, let me know how this goes. If you wanna record this conversation and then play it back to me, you can do that. I don't know, maybe there are some rules against recording things without people know it, but actually --
ROB: Well, maybe you could just let him know.
JUSTIN: Yeah. Just tell 'em you're gonna record this for the Mr. Corpo podcast. Put the pressure on them. That's a good idea.
ROB: You've got nothing to hide.
JUSTIN: Yeah. That's right. Okay. Let's do that. Well that's it for today's bonus section. I want to of course give you a shoutout. Please go to to the mrcorpo.com website. We have every episode of Mr. Corpo. We have, I think, 20 episodes now. They're all up on the website, they're all transcribed so you can print them out. You can read them while you sit on the toilet. You can print them out and mail them to someone. You can even mail them to someone anonymously, if you felt like they needed to improve something, print them out, put them in an envelope. Of course, wear latex gloves so they can't get your fingerprints, and mail it to someone. It's a great way to help someone out with their career. So go to mrcorpo.com website, of course hit us up on Twitter at Mr_Corpo, and email firstname.lastname@example.org for those anonymous questions. And otherwise, I think that's it. Rob, thanks for another great episode, as always. And onwards and upwards.
Oh, and by the way, I almost forgot to mention, the opening lyrics were from Minor Threat, one of my favorite punk bands of all time, by far. And the song was, "I Don't Wanna Hear It." 25:02