Remaining cordial with coworkers you dislike


...for a legit reason of course.

I've never had a good poker face. If I don't like someone or I'm unhappy with a situation, I tend to wear my frustration on my face. This is a problem now that I'm forced to deal with a coworker I dislike (for a legit reason).

How do you manage staying cordial with people who rub you the wrong way? I'm not a confrontational person but I'm afraid that my interactions aren't the nicest...

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

I know what you mean. I'm the same matter what I do, I wear my emotions all over my face and I am powerless to change it. HOWEVER---it's still possible to be nice to people you don't like. I do this by creating a distance in my mind between me and the person I don't care for: "This person does not matter to me. But I have to work with them, so it's in my best interests to get along with them." Basically, I fake it till I make it, and even when I don't make it, I can still smile and be pleasant, if not friendly.

Specializes in Critical Care.

I prefer to be civil but not nice. It seems so fake to be "nice" to someone you dislike. I will just not speak to that person unless necessary and avoid interacting with them. I think that is more honest than to pretend to like someone you don't just to get along. I'm not going to win a popularity contest but I'm true to myself and can sleep at night!


392 Posts

I practice avoidance when possible.

SoldierNurse22, BSN, RN

13 Articles; 2,058 Posts

I also keep things cordial, but I won't lead someone to believe that I like them when I don't. I work with several people at my place of employment that I really don't like, to include several superiors. I have found it very possible to maintain a professional working relationship without being buddy-buddy or pretending to like them when I really don't.

jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

51 Articles; 4,800 Posts

Be cordial, professional. Otherwise, be pleased that you do not have to deal with them outside of work. Someone that you don't necessarily like can be a great nurse, and a great member of a team. That you are not besties is a non-issue.

Clear, precise and to the point. Otherwise, you don't have to chit-chat.

Has 33 years experience.

It's called professionalism.

Communicate what is necessary to maintain the work relationship.

Practice removing the frustration from your body language. It will affect the way you are perceived and get YOU negative feedback from management, doctors, and families.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

2,773 Posts

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

You need to practice getting your emotions not to show when dealing with coworkers you do not like. Just keep a razor sharp focus on your goal. So for example if you need to give report to this person focus in on getting all the information across that you need to so the continuity of care is good. I too try to keep my interactions to a minimum but this is not always possible so you need other tools in you tool box. You can also try to communicate on purpose by phone or Vocera to minimize the face to face interactions. I would also try to role play with another coworker that you can trust to hone your skill in keeping your facial expression neutral. Be civil and kind and always take the high road.


700 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 1 years experience.

I just erased my whole post because I am massively passive with people that I don't like at work. I overcompensate my dislike with fake friendliness.

My only advice... Try to confront the person before you vent about them to coworkers. I am working on this very hard right now, I find it intimidating to confront someone about their behavior/actions and find myself releasing my pent up stress over it with my coworkers. This is not only unprofessional but is also not very productive since I'm still avoiding the issue.

Anyway, I am really awful at this, so that's the only advice I can give.

NicuGal, MSN, RN

2,743 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU. Has 30 years experience.

You would never know if I disliked you. I treat everyone cordially and professionally. It just isn't worth the hassle otherwise.


7 Posts

Whatever you do please don't vent to anyone!!! Don't let anyone hear you complaining and you don't have to mislead them just let them know "we are associates" and that's it. Believe me if you don't like someone nurses are going to gossip about it, I hear it all the time. And they will throw you under the bus the minute some thing goes wrong. People tend to choose sides really quick so I would just stay to my self and ignore and keep things real short.


10,176 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 44 years experience.

I work in a setting where people are going to be observing my actions and reactions all day long. It is in my best interest to develop a sort of "professional demeanor" that I put on before I am on the job and take off at the end of my shift.

This is my profession and my job. It is my obligation to conduct myself like an adult and a professional when dealing with others (even if they are obnoxious and annoying). If I show my dislike for another worker it reflects on MY professionalism. As another poster pointed out, if you don't have a poker face of sorts you will be a target for disgruntled patients and families.

I don't feel an obligation to be friends with the person, or even to be "nice" to them. I am to the point, polite but not friendly and I suffer no BS from them. If they open their mouths with stupid crap I either walk away or correct them immediately with the goals of our "interaction". I don't pretend to like people. I just behave like the professional I am. I would recommend that.