Working relationships – how to work with people you have very little in common with

Author: Samson   Date Posted:12 July 2016 

Getting along with co-workers can feel anywhere between easy and effortless to challenging and frustrating.

One of the key reasons people tend to feel the latter is that they feel as if they don’t have a lot in common with a particular co-worker or with the workplace in general. Thankfully this doesn’t need to be an obstacle to forming great workplace relationships, in fact, it is an opportunity to create meaningful relationships that you might not have had otherwise. With the following ideas and recommendations, hopefully you will be inspired to make your time at work even more enjoyable!  


Get to know them

A common recommendation for anyone in the workplace is to get to know your co-workers, yet often it is easy to make the mistake of thinking you know them when in fact what you know is just the very basics or what you gathered from first impressions. Short conversations and quick hellos in the hallway are certainly important, but they don’t provide a chance for you to see your similarities and differences, as a result leaving you with the feeling that you don’t have much in common with a co-worker when you very well could.

Have a coffee and get to know your colleagues

A good idea is to try and schedule coffee or organise that you have lunch together. When you meet the co-worker, make an effort to steer conversation away from work-related topics and instead ask questions and get to know the person, find out their hobbies, passions, anything other than work. Doing this will help ensure that you are giving yourself the best chance to get to know your co-workers.


Get involved in the culture

Often a workplace already has a strong culture with an existing set of shared interests and passions. Examples include everyone watching the same television show and discussing it the next day, actively following a sports league or regularly going out for post-work Friday drinks. Instead of seeing an existing work culture as intimidating or something you don’t believe you have a whole lot in common with, see it as an easy opportunity to find something that you can have in common with your co-workers. If they enjoy AFL and love discussing it, make sure you have a team yourself and are keeping up to date with it. If there is a reality television show that they are obsessed with, watch it one evening so you can easily contribute to the next day’s conversation. Making these efforts may feel like conforming but in reality it is a way to get to know your co-workers and find common interests and qualities outside of the existing workplace culture.


Be a friend, get a friend

Sometimes no matter how much effort you put in to it, you just won’t have much in common with a co-worker. Instead of seeing this as issue it is best to accept the situation for what it is, to not take it personally and choose to focus on being the friendliest, most productive co-worker you can be. By focusing on helping your co-workers, being compassionate to whatever issues they are having and being a pleasant presence in the workplace, you are helping ensure that your time at work is most enjoyable and your co-workers will be happy to help you whenever you need them. You don’t need to have a lot in common with someone to work well with them, you just need to get along with them. Often that’s all that can be expected and there is nothing wrong with that.


Hopefully with these tips and recommendations you can stop seeing a lack of common interests as a problem and instead see it as the great opportunity that it is. Whether through making an effort to get to know your co-workers, getting more involved in office life or simply accepting your relationships for what they are, you can always find a way to have great relationships with your co-workers.