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Getting Along effective for anyone

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Image courtesy of Harvard Business Review Press
Image courtesy of Harvard Business Review Press

© 2022 Harvard Business Review Press
304 pages

It's an almost-universal thing: in one recent study, 94% of workers polled said that they worked with someone who was difficult to get along with. If someone ever offered a "Dealing with Jerks" class, in other words, it would be crowded.

And yet, many workers strive to get along because they like the job and everybody else there, or they're (sometimes) patient enough to give the toxic person the benefit of the doubt. They might also realize that they themselves are not totally innocent in every situation. They understand that, bottom line, work is mostly about relationships.

Brain science explains a lot, says author Amy Gallo, which offers a first step to peace. Your brain isn't perfect, neither is your adversary's, and it helps to remember that. It also helps to know the various types of difficult people you might deal with at work.

First up: try to imagine the stressors an insecure boss faces, and cut them some slack. Try to see a pessimist's dire words as warning, not as whining. Ask yourself if a victim is really being persecuted. Enlist the help of your team when dealing with a passive-aggressive co-worker. Learn how to stop a know-it-all in his tracks. Remember that generational issues may be why you're having problems with a tormentor. Know the risks of speaking up and not speaking up about a biased coworker. Learn how to showcase your work, get credit for it, and thwart the political operator. Know the basic principles for simply just getting along.

And finally, know when to throw in the towel. Take care of yourself, but know that quitting is okay, and there's absolutely no shame in it.

So, with "help wanted" signs everywhere and jobs plentiful, is there even a need for a book like Getting Along anymore? Yes, suggests Gallo, because there's more to every picture, and the jerk in this situation could be you.

But let's say you're a flawless human being or you work from home — which warrants several paragraphs in this book — or you don't have to work. Getting Along is still a valid read, because Gallo's advice will work for family, frenemies, neighbors — nearly anybody you can't avoid and who rankles you mightily. The lessons you'll learn are useful as a compassionate, intelligent, Zen way of looking at conflict and humanity, while also protecting yourself and honing your flexibility.

While this book is specifically about getting along with bosses and co-workers, it's not a bad idea as a gift for a teen or new college student. For mindful conflict resolution, Getting Along is a book they'll consult often.