The US presidential election is over, and we all know what the result is. During the campaign, US President Barack Obama made his pitch for Hillary Clinton. In many of his speeches supporting of her, he criticised the then Republican nominee Donald Trump. In the end, Trump beat Clinton by a decisive margin. After the victory, Trump met Obama at the White House. Obama and Trump spoke to the press post the meeting. Trump said that their meeting was going to last 10 to 15 minutes, but they ended up speaking for an hour-and-a-half. Trump also revealed that the duo had never met before. Despite not having interacted before and being bitter critics of each other, Trump and Obama talked and probably discussed issues of national and international importance.
The situation that Trump and Obama were in is not something that only people in high offices face. It can happen in our day-to-day lives as well, and especially at our workplaces. Take, for example, a situation where you don’t like your senior at work. The two of you don’t see eye to eye, neither do you talk to each other because of your differences. But suddenly, you get promoted, and now your position is the same as your adversary. Now, you are left with no option but to coordinate with him or her.
So, how do you handle the situation and break the ice? Mary George Varghese, clinical psychologist, says that working with a person who has a different perspective from yours is surely a challenge, but it widens your knowledge spectrum, enhances your skills, and helps you see things from different dimensions.
“If you have to work with a person with whom you have differences, your focus should be on fulfilling your professional responsibilities, rather than your personal equation with the person,” says Varghese, adding, “As a professional, the modus operandi is the key to your success. So, even if you don’t like the person you have to deal with, take the lead in spite of all your differences, and focus on your common goal.”
But, if you have just climbed up the ladder and the person that you don’t like has already held a higher position for some time, you have to be cautious with your approach. Things may go against you. Clinical psychologist Tanushree Bhargava says, “A polite and humble relationship should be the first step in building a professional bond with someone you don’t like or talk to. It is important to set the boundaries. Your interactions should be limited to professional matters. Personal issues should be dealt with separately.”
But what if the person on the other end is not ready to build bridges or is unwilling to cooperate? In that case, Bhargava says, you are not responsible for what the other person is thinking or doing. “Continue with your professional attitude even if the other person doesn’t cooperate. Talk to him or her when necessary. Try to avoid any verbal or non-verbal communication that could be counted as unprofessional,” says Bhargava.
These situations are not confined to professional lives, but can occur in personal spheres as well. For example, you are getting married after dating your partner for a long time, a period in which you shared a bitter relationship with your future in-laws. But now, you have to work in coordination with them to make sure your upcoming wedding ceremony is joyous, and, most importantly, for your marriage to have a smooth sail. What should the groom or bride, who has had problems with the in-laws, do in such a scenario?
Bhargava says, “The bride or groom, who has had issues with the in-laws, should first try to improve communication with them. Try to understand the challenges and reasons that make you less likeable. Sit down and talk in person. Avoid phone conversations as much as possible because a face-to-face talk helps mend fences.” And what about the in-laws? What should their approach to the situation be?
Overall, both the parties should try starting afresh, give their 100% towards building the relationship, and forget about the past, rather than expressing one’s anger or frustration.