When you first start your career, you’re extremely focused on getting people to like you. You pick your outfits to be agreeable, you watch your speech, you over analyze emails… all to be sure you are not offending anyone and (hopefully) making friends.
It may happen a few weeks in, a few months, or a few years, but some time in your career you will come across someone who just doesn’t like you. You’ll get snubbed for lunch invites. They will be condescending in front of your colleagues. You may even be the brunt of a few jokes. You wonder what you did wrong, you try to make it better, but for whatever the reason, you cannot change the first impression you made on this person (and apparently, it was a bad one).
First thing – don’t take it personally and don’t freak out. This happens to everyone at some point in their working life. There are definitely a few proactive and positive steps you can take to be sure this situation doesn’t come to a conflict. The last thing you want is someone’s wrongful impression hurting your work or your concentration. Or for this to turn into an episode of The Real Housewives.
A few tips…
Always be polite - Playground rules apply here. Just because someone has chosen to show their (wrongful) feelings, does not mean you stoop to that level. Always show graciousness and poise. Don’t even share with your closest office buddy any negative feelings. If there is any bad blood, it isn’t coming from you. It makes the other person’s opinions seem silly.
Warn your boss - Have an offhand and offline conversation with your boss BEFORE any real issues arise. This can be very casual, something as simple as “I was working with Angela on this project and she expressed a few feelings – I’m not sure she likes me very much.” If your boss asks you to elaborate, you can. This will keep you out of the fray if things take a dramatic turn. *Note, this is not an excuse to talk to your boss about every small conflict in the office, just those you worry about tension rising over.
Help with the workload – Continuously offer to help with your grumpy colleague’s work, and do the best job for her that you can. Just short of sucking up, this shows your colleague your worth to the company and the good work you can do! If you make her life easier, there really is little smack talk she can hand out.
How have you handled wrongful impressions in the workplace?