Why you should talk to that difficult colleague rather than duck into the bathroom

Caiaimage | Paul Bradbury | Getty

We've all been there. Faced with that difficult colleague, it sometimes seems easier to duck into the bathroom or bury your head in that pile of long-forgotten papers than strike up a conversation.

But embracing those awkward encounters could be the first step to advancing your career, according to behaviour specialist Mattersight.

We're not talking about sucking up to your boss, either. It's about learning to build relationships with all colleagues.

"If you want to be a leader, you have to be able to communicate with everybody," Melissa Moore, Mattersight's senior vice president and chief people officer told CNBC Make It.

"In our social lives we don't become friends with people we roll our eyes at. But in leadership you don't get the choice," she said.

Focus on common ground

Moore recommended observing the other person and what's important to them to find some common ground.

"Think about how you make that (awkward encounter) a conversation, rather than ducking into the bathroom to avoid it," she said.

"Pay attention to the overall person and why that person is hard for you and do something about it," she continued.

Moore, who has built her career in language analysis, said that attention to detail is crucial to developing relationships and, ultimately, influencing others.

"When we take the time and when we think about the other person we're interacting with we can get it right more than we get it wrong," Moore noted.

Adapt your language

A new study by Mattersight analysed the language habits of top CEOs and found that they can reveal a lot about how leaders interact with their staff and the cultures they create in their companies.

Moore said that by listening to colleagues' language, and adapting yours to reflect it, you can also build rapport and gain more from your interactions.

"You need the ability to think about what you want out of an interaction versus what you say and how you say it," she said.

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!