We are adults. We are professionals, and we spend most of our waking hours at work. Why is it so hard to just get along? Because we are adults, professionals and spend so much of our time at work.

How do we lead through these inherent challenges to accomplish our goals in a positive way? Try some perspective. Here are three reasons why we can't all get along — and how to get passed it.


In the 1994 film "The Ref," Denis Leary argues the group can open presents even though it is not the usual time because "we're adults and we can open the presents whenever we want!" There is an element of this in everything we do at work.

On the acceptable side of the spectrum, "being adults" is what helps us decide when to take breaks, start new projects and basically get things done throughout the day and week without having to have someone stand over us and tell us every few minutes what to do next.

On the other end of the spectrum are micromanagers and the people who need lots of structure. While it may seem negative, they have found a way to work within the organization, and if you start messing with their system, it can be seen as disrespectful and destructive.

Take note of the variety of needs for independent decision-making, and it will make it easier to understand why some work styles inherently conflict.


Because we are professionals, we want to do things right. Even nonstar performers have some level of desire to avoid punishment and poor performance reviews. Even they have a modicum of professional self-respect that drives them to produce a minimum standard.

We all have our tolerance level. So when someone else messes with our standard, interferes with the way we do things or in some way criticizes our approach, it is going to be annoying.

When trying to address this type of issue, remember to consider all sides. Acknowledging a deviation in approach can go a long way in helping someone understand the change is not about them, but it does need to happen.

Too much work

We all have a breaking point, and it can change based on factors in and out of work. There is no work-life balance we only have so many hours in the day, and it is extremely difficult to divide those neatly between our personal and professional lives.

Further, we are not always good at recognizing when we are burning out. The signs are often clearer to others than they are to ourselves. And giving feedback to someone that he/she may need a break is not always easy to do.

Yet, as leaders, we need to ensure our staff is rested, focused and productive. It is incumbent upon us to know our team and understand the signs of burnout and address them before it is too late. This can be on an individual basis or as a group in which case a day off or bagels and donuts could help, respectively.

Knowing your own limits and leading by example will also go a long way to help underscore the importance when you do encourage your team members to take a break.

So take a minute, realize we are all in this together and apply a little perspective to your approach.