What to Do If You Think Your Coworkers Hate You

You stroll into the office break room, and suddenly a hush comes over the entire room—people are giving you side-eyed glances and muttering under their breath.

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You try to squeeze by to make it to the coffee maker, and Susan from accounting gives an eyeroll so grandiose you’re sure you could see it from space.

As you walk out, you hear everyone start to chat about heading out for happy hour after work—a happy hour you were clearly not invited to.

It’s official—your coworkers hate you. And, this isn’t just you being overly paranoid and self-conscious. They’ve showed no qualms about their level of dislike toward you. You suddenly feel like you’re back in your high school cafeteria, and it’s making your work environment uncomfortable at best.

Work relationships are complicated, and feeling despised by your colleagues can definitely serve to make things trickier. While your first inclination might be to rally all of the coworkers you actually get along with and start a Sharks vs. Jets style rivalry in the conference room, it’s really not your best course of action.

What do you do instead? Well, try this.

1. Remember to Breathe

Finding out you’re not going to win Miss Congeniality in your office can definitely be a blow to your ego. And, for some of us, it’s the only inspiration we need to fly off the handle and conduct a full-scale investigation into why everyone isn’t absolutely singing our praises.

But, resist the urge to lose your cool and instead take a step back to breathe. Remember, flipping out and transforming into the coworker that screams, “Please! You have to like me! Why don’t you like me?! LIKE ME!” isn’t going to do you (or your reputation) any solid favors.

2. Think About Reasoning

Once you’ve cooled off a little bit, it’s time to reflect and see if you can think of any justifications for why your coworkers might be less than thrilled to be working with you. Does your boss always seem to favor your ideas and suggestions? Did you embarrass someone by tearing down his or her plan in a team meeting? Did you forget someone’s birthday?

Try to think if there’s any sort of logical reason why your coworkers could be acting icy. While you can’t necessarily go back in time and fix it, having that information in hand could definitely be helpful when it comes time to address step three.

3. Confront It If Necessary

If you’re eager to start fresh with a clean slate, you might choose to have a conversation with your coworker (or coworkers, for that matter) about why your working relationship is tense at best.

The secret here is to not be overly aggressive or confrontational. Your aim is to improve things—not make them worse, after all.

Try starting with something simple and straightforward like, “Hey, Joe. I’ve noticed that things have been a little tense between us. I want to make sure we’re able to have a productive and successful working relationship, so I wanted to try to nip this in the bud. Is there something I’ve done to rub you the wrong way?”

Be forewarned, Joe may very well completely brush off your question with a snarky, “Everything’s fine” sort of response. But, at least you can rest assured with the knowledge that you tried your best to be the bigger person and patch things up.

4. Let It Go

There comes a point when constantly trying to repair your relationship with a coworker will just become exhausting and counterproductive for the both of you. You just don’t see eye-to-eye, and you’re never going to—regardless of how many open and honest conversations you attempt to have.

At this point, your best to just let it go and move on. You only need to work with these people—there’s no rule stating that you need to be best friends. So, as long as your somewhat cold relationship doesn’t affect the quality of your work (if it does, it might be time to loop in your supervisor!), do your best to keep your head down and stay focused on your work.

No, you may not be able to fix that relationship. But, constantly obsessing over it isn’t going to help things either.

We all have a desire to be well-liked. So, knowing that one (or a few of) your coworkers doesn’t necessarily adore you can be a tough pill to swallow.

But, your workplace isn’t high school (no matter how much it can feel like it at times). So, follow these four tips to deal when you think a coworker hates you, and you’ll be able to move on—with poise and class, to boot.

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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