Working in an office bears a striking resemblance to a packet of gummy bears. Here you are, in this packet, with a bunch of different looking, different tasting, different acting gummies (read colleagues). Though you don’t like some of them, there they are (often outnumbering the ones you do like) – the horrible green ones, the overpowering red ones. You, the poor yellow one, just minding your own business in the bottom left corner.
To imagine that you will get along with all the different humans in your office, is a sign that you are yet to discover the contrary.

You may find yourself in sticky situations (get it – because of the gummy bears) where a colleague offends you, belittles you or stirs up controversial topics.
Here are a few tips to cope with different humans being forced into tiny spaces together:
  1. Do not engage in talks about ‘sensitive’ topics (like religion) with people with strong views different to yours. Politely excuse yourself from these conversations, even just to go to the bathroom. Do not put yourself in a situation where you feel threatened or attacked.
  2. Keep in mind that people have lives after office hours – if they snap at you, you cannot be personally offended. They might have extreme stress in their personal lives, affecting their mood in the office.
  3. Be slow to judge – the smidge of their personality you get to know in the office, may not be all there is to them. Often people will surprise you – your head of payroll may be an adrenaline junky over weekends!
  4. Facebook stalking your colleagues is a great way to find out more about their personalities, giving you valuable talking points to connect with them. Just be careful not to like one of their pictures from 2011 by accident.
  5. Be the lesser one. You will also have bad days and inevitably snap at a colleague once in a while. Remember that a sincere and honest apology goes a long way in repairing relationships with your colleagues after you had a bad day.
  6. Give your colleagues space. Being forced into each other’s personal space can be tough to navigate – people from very different backgrounds are suddenly forced to spend great deals of time together, which is a great recipe for conflict. If a colleague is having a bad day, give them space to cool down by putting your earphones in and retreating.
  7. Don’t take troublemakers to your head. Some people like drama and would intentionally stir things up – under no circumstances are you to feed the troll by engaging with or reacting to them! Instead, see nr1 of this list.
  8. Listen, but think twice before corroborating negative discussions. If a colleague wants to blow off steam about a frustrating co-worker, hear them out but reserve judgment and tread very lightly before blindly bashing your co-workers with them.
  9. Find variety in your office – not only in terms of people, but in terms of spaces. Sit somewhere else during lunch with different people and get to know colleagues from different departments, or you might find yourself isolated pretty soon to one group of colleagues. Your office is the perfect place to build a large network of acquaintances from different fields.
  10. If one person’s entire existence simply annoys the living shit out of you, feel free to go out of your way to avoid them (without being hostile, of course).
Share a comment below on how you find ways to live with the different people in your office – or what hasn’t worked so great.