Have you ever started a new job and felt no one liked you, or maybe, one person, in particular, had it out for you? I have been there myself and want to tell you how I have been able to solve this problem almost every time in my nursing career. This practice can work in many other professions as well, especially other healthcare professions. Some of these techniques will take time, patience, and persistence if you want to be successful.
I used to work with a nurse on my unit who I thought did not care for me very much for one reason or another. I didn’t have any way to prove this other than the way she responded to me when it came to my nursing abilities. I could sense something was not right because she would question nursing decisions I had made and seemed to turn her nose up when I would walk by her in the hallway. Now, this could have been her personality and not necessarily what she thought of my competence as a nurse. By this time, I had been a nurse for four or five years, so I was not a new grad. She had been a nurse for maybe a year, so this very well may have been her way of trying to prove herself.
I could have taken an attitude of responding the same way she did by giving it right back at her. However, my Christian beliefs and the man I was becoming would not allow me to respond in such an unprofessional manner to this situation. At the time, I was learning a lot about relationships and working with people. I began to think to myself, how do I get this nurse to respect me in a professional manner. Four ideas came to my mind; the first two may be givens for you and the last two you may not have thought of before.
Call them by name – It was Dale Carnegie in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, who said, “A person’s name is the sweetest sound they will ever hear.” Make sure you are learning people’s names as quickly as possible, and you can recall it the next time you meet them. Make an effort to remember their name. Think back to your school days of memorizing thousands of acronyms or Latin terms. Whatever helps you memorize their name, do it. And if you forget their name, give yourself grace and ask them for it again. Try it, it works!
Don’t talk about them behind their back – I know it’s tempting. They’ve insulted you countless times. However, resist the urge. I know this is not always possible, nor will you be the only person with this opinion on a particular co-worker, but you must separate yourself from any discussions that criticize this person. I would look for opportunities to praise this person and focus on the strengths of this person. Gossip always gets back to someone whether you think so or not.
Help them when they are struggling – Look for opportunities to help them when they are having a bad day at work. Do things to alleviate the stress they are facing. In my experience, asking a nurse if they need help is usually answered with “no, I’m fine.” It is hard for nurses, in general, to admit they are struggling because this may indicate defeat or possibly they can’t “hack it” to their coworkers. I just take the initiative and start doing stuff for them. For example, one of their other patients may need pain medicine while another needs discharging. I let them know that I will give the pain medicine on their other patient so that they can remain focused on the discharge. Then go about your business and do not expect anything in return. Trust me, they noticed and will respond in time. There are many other examples, but if you're doing something as small as this for a person you are having trouble getting along with you will be surprised at the response you get and their change in attitude. The saying “kill them with kindness” really does make a difference. It is very difficult to dislike someone who helps you when you’re in a jam. This has worked for me time, and time again. There will come a day when they are struggling, and all your patients are chilling, and you can jump in there and help out this other nurse who seems to hate your guts. Guess who will be the first to help you when you are struggling? You guessed it; the nurse you thought had it out for you.
Make it about them – This may be the last thing you want to do when someone aggravates you, but it is key to sorting out the personality conflict . Ask this person about themselves. Do they have a child or pet? Learn their child’s name or their pet’s name. Later, ask about them from time to time. This may strike a cord with them. If they take a vacation, ask them about their trip. People want to talk about themselves, and by asking them questions, you are giving them a chance to do so. It will help you to get to know them better and give you some detail you can bring up later to trigger a friendly conversation. I understand this may not be a person you are looking forward to chatting up. Since you are trying to get this person to like you, you have to be intentional about getting to know them. This also breaks the habit of avoiding people you do not like. I have found avoiding people I am struggling to get along with only makes it more difficult to get to know them. You may be the only person who has asked about them that day or week, and this can make a big difference in your relationship with this person.
Getting people to like you has been such an important skill I have learned working in health care. There are a lot of big egos, and many people are trying to prove they are good enough. On the outside, it may appear the other person has it out for you. Many times they could be jealous, envious, or this is how they express themselves when they are trying to prove their competence. Remember, don’t take it personally as this person may just be insecure. Like I said, these techniques can be used in many professions and in general relationships with new people you encounter on a daily basis. Who knows, you may even become friends.
What are some of the ways you have gained acceptance and likeability with your coworkers or others you have come in contact with? Have you tried any of the techniques mentioned above? How did they work for you? Let me know in the comments below or message me with your questions.
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