What are you dealing with?

Have you ever found yourself forced to spend time with people you just don’t like? Or people who don’t like you? How do you handle it?

I am privileged to come from a family (a large one) where we genuinely like each other, and enjoy spending time together. Do we occasionally squabble? Yes, but it ends up being more like puppy fights than wars. And at the end, we still like and respect each other.

And, in my business life I have made a conscious effort to surround myself with people I know, like and trust. I think both of these things give me a real boost and even an added edge on occasion.

It hasn’t always been that way. I have had my share of nightmare situations – from the team member who does no work (but talks a good game and takes all the credit) to the department head at a client engagement who said “I am not going to implement a single thing you suggest.” And everything in between.

What do you do in that situation?

Well, I can tell you from personal experience what doesn’t work. When dealing with a team member who is doing no work – doing their job on top of your own and seething about it isn’t a great approach. Yes, the project does get done. But not holding the team member accountable for doing their own job does no good. And quietly seething about it is only harmful to you.

And, again from personal experience – what does work is establishing boundaries and sticking by them. Being accountable to the client or the team works. In the case of the department head, my approach was to let my client know that I wasn’t going to waste their money by spending any more time in that department. The client appreciated that, and since I had already done what they wanted me to do in that department, nothing more was said.

However, as we all know, we don’t always have total control over who we are working with and having to deal with people who you don’t like or trust can take a real toll on your energy, your self confidence, your self esteem, and your productivity. So what can you do?

Set your boundaries, pick your battles, and don’t engage in the tug of war. Be accountable for yourself and your results. Hold others to account for themselves and their results.

And sometimes you just have to leave a toxic environment. For many, the relief of being out of that environment is enormous. It’s only then that you realize how much of your energy was going towards coping.

Look around. Are you accountable? Are you pulling your weight? Or are you carrying the weight of others? Or maybe someone is picking up the slack you are leaving?

What is in your control is your own behavior. Remember, being accountable works, setting boundaries works, respecting yourself and others works.

(c) 2010, Terry Monaghan

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Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, a free weekly ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.


  1. 10/10 for Terry!! Yes, accountability, boundaries, respect and a strong work ethic. Works every time,. Thanks Terry

  2. Grace Heer says:

    Powerful stuff, Terry! The stronger I feel in myself and my boundaries, the better I am able to relate to others. Healthier relationships creates more positive work place, creates happier workers, creates happier customers, creates better relationships… love that cycle.

  3. Being with people that we love and love us nourishes spirit.
    When there are people and situations that we don’t like, it is spiritual compost.

  4. katherineche says:

    Yes! Surround yourself with dynamic, nourishing people who lift you up and remind you (by their example) of your own limitless potential! XO, Katherine.
    Life Blossoming Systems.

  5. Kiyla Fenell says:

    What do we do when these individuals are family? What do you recommend in handling these delicate issues?

    Kiyla Fenell

    • ofyl says:

      Kiyla – again – boundaries, clear expectations. It’s not personal, it’s business and should be treated as such. What many just won’t confront is the damage done to the whole team and the whole business when just one person isn’t being accountable for their part. I have seen whole departments decimated because no one held a non-performing employee to account. All the good people left. Can you imagine the impact that had on the whole company?

  6. Terry,
    Surrounding yourself with people you know, like, and trust is so important.
    Setting boundaries is an art and one I continue to work on, but can still find improvement.

  7. I love that you say — “Are you pulling your weight? Or are you carrying the weight of others?” So important to look at a situation through non-biased eyes and from all perspectives! 🙂

    • ofyl says:

      Yes, Carmen – Exactly! You are not doing anyone any favors if you are carrying others. But mostly we focus on the person not doing the job. We also must focus on how we are allowing that to happen.

  8. Thanks Terry for your simple candor. Being authentic and communicating are ideas that never go out of style!

  9. I have a hard time saying “no” to some of my team members so I’m glad to hear that I am on the right track with setting boundaries. Thank you!

  10. Mitch Tublin says:

    I enjoyed your post. In reading the other comments I have to say that Laura’s really struck me :
    Being with people that we love and love us nourishes spirit.
    When there are people and situations that we don’t like, it is spiritual compost.

  11. I liked your Terry’s take about spending time with those we love.
    I have a very living family supportive of me all my life. unfortunately during seven years of marriage i was abused by my husband to be away from my caring family. During divorce they supported me and helped me stand for myself to understand my love for my children and to get rid of my ugly abusive marriage.
    Michelle Daneshrad, Esq.