Don’t get me wrong, I’m a team player (most of the time), but once you’ve experienced working with someone you loathe how do you cope with it? Do you put up with it because, well everyone does and expects you to, or what are the alternatives? I’m no hypocrite, and can’t pretend to like someone, but I can tolerate them if need be. The thing is life is too short to spend it in the company of people you don’t like, so if they don’t go, then you should make that move.

There were lots of kids I couldn’t stand in school, and I learned to avoid them, but you can’t escape them. This is actually pretty good training for adult life, when you end up working somewhere with people you don’t like. The problem is school and work are different in that you can’t change schools, but you can change your job or at least the company. However, is that a bit extreme, and does it show a degree of arrogance or intolerance?

I was lucky, in my first two jobs as there was no one I disliked, even the managers, and I never had to deal with this feeling of begrudgingly loathing someone for 8 hours a day in front of me. That all changed when I got my first permanent job. It was in retail on a beauty counter and yes, some of the girls were bitchy. I tolerated it, and gradually most accepted me (they assumed I got the job through favoritism), and there was a great camaraderie. Pregnancies and divorces meant some left, and change isn’t always good. I was then stuck with a tiresome girl working next to me. I couldn’t bear to speak to her each day, and did only when I had to. Friends asked why I didn’t like her, and sometimes there is no reason, but she was petite, pretty, and looked innocent so people took her side. Even our manager noticed I loathed her and made sure she stayed out of my way. Why didn’t I like her? She was whiny, always complaining, was obsessed with her looks, selfish, and was fake. When you spend 40 hours a week next to someone, you get to see their true colors and it wasn’t that nice. I’d wanted to leave my job for a number of years, and she (her name was Clare) gave me the incentive I needed to do it, as I just couldn’t bear being around her each day, and I couldn’t avoid her because we shared a counter.

I can’t tell you the relief when I left, not only the job but also knowing I would never have to see that girl again. Retail attracts all sorts, but is often ruled by performance rather than personality. I ran into more loathsome souls in John Lewis, in fact one was a member of staff I was coerced into hiring. It’s fair to say I was duped and felt sorry for the girl that I grew to loathe, and she ended up leaving so I didn’t have to. Sharing a small counter space with someone you dislike is mentally hard work. I will admit I made life difficult for her, but as she requested all her weekends off next to public holidays, and guilt tripped me into it (as her family was in France) I had pretty much no life as I was forced to work all the holidays around her. That isn’t why I didn’t like her— it was mainly because she lied and exaggerated things and got away with it, I mean no one likes that do they?

The best thing to do was to be a freelancer or a contractor because I could pick and choose the jobs I wanted and who I’d be working with. Sounds ideal, but not always as I soon discovered. When it becomes a choice between working and making money and not on principle because you don’t like the client, agent, or whom you will be working with can you afford to be picky?

As a model you only work with someone for a day or a few days at most, so you can bear to work with some difficult people as you can count down the hours, then smile and wave goodbye and hope never to see them again. However, who you work for and who shows up on your social media profiles can make a difference too. I once turned down a job my agent offered me (one I had done before) and made some kind of excuse why I couldn’t do it. She tackled me as to the real reason, and I told her the person that was down to work with me was someone I loathed, so she switched me to another job. Apparently my agent had been unaware of this, but this was backed up by my friends and co-workers who felt the same. They were able to ignore her more easily than I, and most actually hated her. Several had walked out or canceled jobs where she had been involved, and so the penny finally dropped for my agent as people had been too polite and resorted to the excuses of a family emergency, or feigned a contagious disease to get out of working with her. You see it’s not just me, but people don’t speak up!

I am realistic to know you can’t always avoid people you loathe, especially when they are the boss or related to the boss. Here, you’ll never win so it’s best to cut your losses and move on as soon as you can. You have to be in a comfortable environment when you work, because that’s how you thrive, and if you don’t like some of the people around you then you do have the choice to do something about it. Save your sanity!

It may require a pay cut or a longer commute, but it’s worth it in the long run. In my last two jobs, I realized that you can’t stay in a job just because you like the people, and must leave if you despise them. In the office there was no one I particularly disliked and I was welcomed in quickly.  After a month they offered me a promotion and a full-time role, and I would have stayed because I liked the people, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in and left on a good note and an open door to return. Next, I took up a voluntary role where the philosophies (alleged) seemed in line with what I was searching for. I watched people come and go, both paid staff and volunteers but no one ever said why. I was to join the not so exclusive group of people who upped and left without notice after 10 weeks, because I knew things weren’t going to change, and one can’t ignore those you don’t like when there are only three staff members left during the holidays. The thought of spending Christmas there depressed me. I had planned my escape (as it was a residential job in the sticks) and managed to get a lift from a visitor who lived in New Haven, near a friend of mine who took me in. I was encouraged to mention my reasons for leaving to the director, and that was no easy task. I told her I was leaving because her daughter was a bully of a boss who treated everyone with disrespect. In my short tenure, I had seen four people make unscheduled exits (one literally spent 10 minutes to pick up their stuff and drove off), a couple who came to try the place out who rejected the offer of a position, and a few who kept threatening to leave. Needless to say, it wasn’t the place, but the people who were running it that made it toxic.

Whatever you may think, you can leave a situation, but you must be brave. Contracts can be broken, but check if there are any liabilities first, and either sort them out or negotiate. Of course the person or people you loathe may leave and that may solve the problem, but can you afford to take that chance on your sanity and mental health? Even online, if there are people on a website or writers I cannot stand I just won’t visit them. We do have choices and it’s not about being arrogant or intolerant. At times we have to choose what is right for us, and being a freelancer that means I can choose whom I work with and I don’t have to give a reason. One thing I can’t do anything about is friends who are friends with those I loathe. While I do believe in choices, it does speak volumes as to who you add as a friend on Facebook and yes, I do judge. If you add a psychotic and egotistic person as a friend, what does that say about you and the company you keep? Reputations matter, especially who your friends are, and who you work with and for. There are a couple of agents that I have worked for with bad reputations, and just the mention of their name can put clients off, so can lose you a job. While freelancing isn’t always financially stable, at least you have control and that is priceless. Sanity is much cheaper than therapy!

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