6 ways to work with people you don’t like (to work with)

November 2nd, 2022

We all have to work with people that we don’t necessarily like. Maybe they are always negative, or perhaps unceasingly positive. No matter the reason, there are people who rub us the wrong way, or simply, can be tough to get along with. However, to be successful in your ministry, you must find a way to work with all kinds of people. Even those you don’t like. The Platinum Rule is an excellent tool for doing just that. In this blog post, I will share with you 6 ways to work with people you don’t like (to work with).

First, I’ll name different kinds of people. Then I’ll give you specific ways to apply the Platinum Rule to work with these people you don’t necessarily like.

Before we get started, let me offer a word of caution. As you scan the list, you may think, “I don’t need to read about that kind person. I get along great with them.” But don’t skip over the descriptions of people you’re already comfortable working with. Instead, I encourage you to read all six examples. Not only will you feel affirmed, but I believe you will find new Platinum Rule strategies to upgrade your relationship with each kind of person.

Now, on to the six kinds of people and ways to work with them even if you don’t like to.

6 Kinds of People You Don’t Like to Work With, and How to Do it Anyway

  1. Fast-Paced People
    When working with people who like to go much faster than you, don’t get thrown by their pace. Chances are, you are more moderate-paced and cautious or conscientious. You may like to take a slower pace to make sure you’ve thought of all contingencies and taken care of all concerns. There’s a benefit, however, to working with fast-paced people. They often bring new ideas, or fresh courage that will benefit both you and the congregation. So, don’t skip working with these people. Instead, listen for the results they are after, and the ideas they are proposing. Often, fast-paced people want to get things done so they can move on to the next project that will also be beneficial. So, instead of trying to slow them down, contribute details and suggest systems that will aid in the process of getting to the result. Knowing that you are making a contribution to a desired result, while not putting on the brakes, may help you feel more comfortable with their pace.
  2. Fact-Finders
    People who insist on gathering far too many facts before acting while you’re chomping at the bit can be an exercise in patience. Fact-finding may feel like it’s slowing the process to the point where it hinders you from taking necessary action. It may even feel like the window of opportunity is closing. So what I’m about to say will seem counter intuitive. Ask yourself: Is the fact-finder being thorough in order to ensure that you have all the particulars necessary for you to succeed? Rather than working against you, is this person actually on your side? Chances are, they want you to succeed. If so, you’ll notice that the fact-finder’s intention to make informed decisions will help you in the long run.
  3. Intuitives
    What do you do when the person you have to work with doesn’t make logical sense? When you can’t follow what they’re saying? It’s like doing math and not showing the work. It can be infuriating! It’s important to understand that some people trust their intuition, or their gut, more than others. There’s a good reason for this. Intuitives find that their gut is one of their best resources in decision-making. If you are working with an intuitive, ask questions rooted in curiosity, not judgment. Curiosity will allow them to expand on their intuition and explain how it connects with the work and decisions at hand. If your logic and their intuition are at an impasse, try to provide the other person with evidence or facts to help them understand your position.
  4. Interior-Processors
    Some people like to get it all worked out in their heads before they even say a word out loud.  This can make it hard to work together. Especially if you are a verbal processor. Their lack of engagement may make you feel judged or ignored. However, it’s important to understand that interior processors need extra time to gather and evaluate their thoughts. Verbal processors, however, can think and talk at the same time. When the interior processor is ready to share ideas, listen carefully, and try to see things from a different point of view. Often when working with people who like to think a bit before speaking, it is helpful if you can have a transparent process or structure for the project. This will help them feel more comfortable sharing their ideas. Sometimes creating a safe space for people to share ideas without the fear of criticism is all people need to move from working in silos to working well with others.
  1. Adaptives 
    Adaptives believe they have a limited amount of influence in any given situation, because “that’s just the way things are.” So they adapt themselves to the current reality, rather than try to change it. This can be frustrating if you can see potential in almost every situation. While it can be good to be optimistic, it is more important to understand where the other person is coming from. An adaptive person likely has seen things go wrong in the past. Their caution or realism may stem from not wanting to get their hopes up just to have things fall apart. When working with an adaptive, focusing on incremental positive change rather than wholesale transformation. Look close to home for places to invest your energy and resources, rather than to grander visions that can be harder to monitor or influence. Invite adaptives to name successes in your work together. Honor their focus and celebrate the wins that come.
  1. Possibility People
    While adaptives opt for do-able wins and local impact, possibility people see options for greatness around every corner. This worldview can drive you nuts when you haven’t seen evidence that would support that level of hopefulness. Possibility people may not understand your concerns, and worse yet, ignore your input. They may minimize your measured approach by calling it negative. However, it is essential to know that possibility people can effectively challenge the status quo, making way for new ministries to be revealed. When working with possibility people, try to see things from their perspective. Allow yourself the space to test previously held assumptions about what can be accomplished. You may find at times that because of their views, your accomplishments together are more significant than you could have imagined.

The Platinum Rule Revealed

The above scenarios reveal an important aspect of the Platinum Rule: “Treat others how they want to be treated.” That means respecting the pace, processes, approaches, mindsets, and values that come naturally to them, even if they are a stretch for you. Practicing the Platinum Rule is a great way to ensure that you demonstrate respect for others. Getting caught up in your way of doing things is easy, but it is essential to remember that not everyone is the same. If you want to be successful in working with people you don’t like (to work with) you’ve got to be willing to adapt to the preferences of others from time to time. This is empathy in action. It says: “I am willing to work together to find a solution.”

I hope you have found these 6 ways to work with people you don’t like (to work with) helpful. Even so, it can take practice to integrate these principles into your relationships. That’s why I’ve created the Platinum Rule Leadership for Changing Times workshop. It will give you the tools and skills necessary to create better relationships with all the people around you. Even the people you don’t like (to work with). Learn more and register here.


Excerpted from Rebekah Simon-Peter's blog, used with the author's permission.

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