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We’ve all worked with someone we didn’t get along with. It can be frustrating, tiresome and unproductive. All of these things can make you avoid your coworker as often as possible, but avoiding them isn’t a long-term answer. Eventually, you’ll have to work side-by-side on something and if your feelings haven’t changed by then it could cause major problems.
Instead of avoiding the person, try to make inroads and turn them into an ally, if not a friend. Starting to build a relationship with them can be as easy as taking them out to lunch. Here are 5 tips to help you turn a work foe into a work friend starting with a simple lunch.
1. Have An Objective
Your objective for the lunch is simple: Get to know your coworker and build a relationship based on trust. Don’t go into the lunch with the intention of changing their views on something you don’t agree with. Get to know your coworker on a more personal level and start building trust with them. You can work on other areas of the relationship later, but right now, your goal is to extend your hand in friendship. Nothing more, nothing less.
2. How To Approach Them
If you aren’t on the best of terms with someone there’s a good chance they know it. They may even feel the same way toward you. Approaching them and asking them to lunch is probably going to be uncomfortable. Just be honest and acknowledge that your relationship got off on the wrong foot and that you’re hoping to change that. It’s not easy, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly most people warm up to the idea if you’re honest and friendly when you approach them. Obviously, now is the time to apologize if something you have done is the reason you’re on bad terms.
3. What If They Decline?
If you really are on bad terms, your coworker might wonder what you’re up to. It’s not often that a person you’re not close with asks you out to lunch. Be persistent. Building relationships with your coworkers is good for office morale and can be a boon for your career. If they decline, don’t take it personally. Maybe they don’t eat lunch or are simply too busy, so ask them if there’s a better time to get together. Again, be honest and sincere when you approach them and you’ll find that most people will be amenable to working out your differences.
4. What Should You Talk About?
You’re probably worried about what you’re going to talk about, especially if you feel like you don’t have anything in common. The answer is simple. Ask questions. Be curious about their life inside and outside of work. Remember, your goal isn’t to push your agenda right now; it’s to learn more about your coworker, clear the air and build a more trusting relationship. Acknowledge any problems or differences you have had in the past. Then own up to your part in those problems, apologize and let them know that you want to move past whatever the problem was and forge a better working relationship.
5. Don’t Stop At Lunch
Lunch is just a starting point that gets your foot in the door. Every relationship takes time to build, especially if there are previous problems. The day after lunch, follow up by letting them know you had an enjoyable time and that you look forward to getting to know them better. As long as you are sincere in wanting to build a better relationship, you’ll get results. No, you may never get your families together for a barbeque, but you’ll almost certainly have a better working relationship.
You don’t have to be a genius to accomplish any of this, but you do have to put aside any hard feelings and be open to building a relationship with your coworker. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t hit it off and you go back to avoiding one another, but chances are good that you walk away from lunch with a better understanding of each other and a budding work relationship.