Getting Along At Work
The workplace brings together a diverse group of people, a group certain to have differing values, expectations and approaches to work. As we all know, these differences can occasionally give rise to tension between colleagues.
While it would be unreasonable to expect that you will get along with absolutely everyone, static between you and a co-worker can affect the morale and productivity of everyone, including yourself. When things are harmonious, there is greater teamwork and cooperation, which goes a long way to making the workday more pleasant.
So when you consider that the average person spends one third of their lives at work, the ability to create and maintain good relationships with your co-workers is paramount.
Ultimately, getting along at work comes down to being flexible and willing to compromise. Being tolerant of individual differences and communicating effectively is also critical. Work is like life, you won't like everyone, and not everyone will like you. But if you can focus on maintaining good working relationships, even with difficult people, you'll be able to avoid misunderstandings and contribute to your organization in a way that shows your strengths and talents in the best light possible.
The key to dealing with difficult people at work is understanding basic human nature. Are they having trouble at home or not feeling well? Did they just get reamed out by a manager for a small mistake? These factors, and many others, could contribute to a negative attitude that directs itself to the closest target - which just may be you, standing there wanting a signature on a requisition form.
The ability to get along with people and adapt to different personalities and types of people we encounter is a key component of survival in the workplace. In some ways, the workplace is like high school, not only because of the time spent there, but because it's often where we connect with people and look for a sense of belonging.
The relationship component of a job can be crucial - if it is important to someone, but missing, it can lead to unhappiness, which can make going to work everyday miserable. Coping with difficult people at work can be extremely trying and can suck the fun out of work. Going to work every morning becomes a burden too heavy to carry. Who hasn't encountered difficult people in their life?
Do you have colleagues who are curt, callous, or just plain cold toward you? It's not uncommon for employees to find themselves in a situation where they're not universally loved within their workplace, says Rita Friedman, a Philadelphia-based career coach. "It's rare that you can find a group of ten people who actually do all truly like each other, and in an environment where people depend on one another to accomplish tasks and meet deadlines, it's only natural that there will be some tension, and often some grudges."
Ryan Kahn, star of MTV's Hired! and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, agrees. "During the 40-plus hour work week, people often end up spending more time with their co-workers than they do with their friends and families. Just as in any relationship, there are going to be conflicts."
Most people work with a diverse group of colleagues with different skill sets, backgrounds, values, and interests-and while these differences can collectively make an organization stronger, they can also be a source of conflict, he adds. "Every workplace has its own dynamic," Friedman says. "In some offices, it's practically standard for new employees to feel as if they are on trial and being judged harshly. This is most likely to occur in places where there have been major reorganizations or layoffs, and new employees are seen as a threat to veteran workers or a lower-cost, lower-caliber replacement for a beloved former colleague."
Or maybe it's just you If you don't have strong interpersonal skills; don't understand the company culture; don't know how to adapt your style to work best with different personality types; or aren't able to predict and address any potential conflicts before they become problems, you might be subjecting yourself to eye rolls and blow offs (or worse) in the office.
But whether it's you or the office dynamic-you'll want to try to get on your colleagues' good side. "It's important to have a positive working relationship with all of your colleagues, even if you don't have a strong personal relationship," Kahn explains. "Very few people work in silos and will need the help of others in order to do their job well. Being a team player or working collaboratively are points that are commonly included in annual reviews, and it just takes one poor relationship to undermine your hard work for the year." Even if you're not interested in spending time with someone outside of work, take the time to appreciate what they bring to the table, and try to establish a cordial working relationship.
Friedman agrees. "While you don't need to suck up to colleagues or flatter them with undeserved compliments, it is important to maintain an atmosphere of politeness, respect, and geniality in order to create an environment where people come in to work with a good attitude. It's really hard to be productive when you resent the place you work or the people you work with."
Take time to learn about your co-worker's life and interests outside of the office, Kahn says. "Sometimes it may surprise you how much you have in common." One way to do this is by spending your lunch or coffee breaks with as many different people within your organization as possible. "This will help to grow your internal network, in addition to being a nice break in the work day."
Sometimes just being a good listener can go a long way, Friedman says. "Rushing to get your own ideas out there can cause colleagues to feel you don't value their opinions." Show respect and listen to their suggestions or thoughts. Try to engage in a conversation instead of a competition.
It might sound obvious, but sometimes we forget to smile throughout the workday. This might send the wrong message to your colleagues (and could be the reason they're not so friendly toward you). "Be sure to learn colleagues' names, and say good morning and good evening every day," Friedman says. "Small gestures can make a big difference," Kahn adds. Leaving someone a handwritten note of congratulations after a promotion or major milestone can be very memorable. Taking time before starting any interaction to ask "How are you?" and genuinely showing interest in the answer can also be effective.
If you have a co-worker that you can't stand or who can't stand you, it's important that you continue to work constructively with them, Kahn says. "I've seen employees go out of their way to avoid others in the workplace, which only exacerbates the problem." If conflict is arising, talk to the colleague to find out what you can do to resolve the problem.
Saying something negative about a colleague in the office or online is one of the fastest ways to get caught up in office drama, Friedman says. "Don't be afraid, however, to praise co-workers to other co-workers."
Thank your co-workers for their contributions and their help, even when you feel it's part of their job anyway, she says. "Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and creating a culture of gratitude is likely to make co-workers want to go above and beyond for you in the future." Offhand compliments about a colleague's new haircut or sweater might be nice flattery, but work-related compliments in the office carry lasting weight. "Consider the person that you're dealing with before each interaction and what will get you to your desired outcome," Kahn says. "Sometimes it helps to watch how they interact with others and shadow what gets the best response. For instance, some people prefer to have more of a personal relationship and spend time chatting before any business dealing. Coming in too directly could be mistaken as short or terse and set the wrong tone for the meeting. Meanwhile, others view time spent chatting as too personal or inefficient and would prefer meetings to be short and to the point."
Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a co-worker would appreciate your help or whether it could come across as an intrusion–but you'll never know if you don't ask, Friedman says. "If you are asking colleagues whether they could use some assistance, do so quietly. It's not about showing the rest of the team that you're taking on extra work, it's about actually helping someone out and building that individual relationship. If you do take on extra work to help someone else, don't act like a martyr. Remember that you're doing this because you want to."
One thing that sets senior leaders apart from their more junior counterparts is their ability to view interactions objectively, Kahn says. "For instance, if someone criticizes your project or the way something is being done, consider this constructively. Too often, junior employees can mistake constructive feedback for personal attack."
Friedman agrees. "Even if it's hard to hear, try to keep an open mind, maintain positive body language, and thank the other person for their input. Don't argue or try to justify yourself. You can always think about it and pick up the conversation again later. Being receptive is an important part of winning others over." Remember to give your colleagues the benefit of the doubt; don't always assume they're being vicious.
If everyone else gets together for a weekly after-work drink or softball game, it's probably a good idea to show up every once in a while, even if it's not really your scene, Friedman says. "Conversely, if it's the type of office where most people value the separation of work and personal life, don't expect your co-workers to come to your Oscars party or half-birthday celebration."
Also try to gauge what's acceptable for casual office conversations. "No matter what, don't over-share," she says. "There's no reason your co-workers should know about your dating life, medical issues that don't directly affect your work, or your political or religious leanings." This will simply irritate them.
Remember long hours and backbreaking toil are for suckers. There is no need to slave your youth away. Lean back, put your feet up, and scam your way into the coveted corner office. When you get up in the middle of the night to take a whiz, phone your boss's voice mail and leave a message. The next morning, when he hears the time-coded message, he'll think you're a round-the-clock superemployee. Don't do it too often, though, or he'll think you're a no-life loser.
Have yourself copied in on all memos your boss gets even ones that have nothing to do with you. When he eventually asks you about it, tell him you're trying to stay on top of as many aspects of the department as you can. Talk up your coworkers to your boss. Pointing out the fine work others are doing shows you can keep your ego in check and work for the greater good in other words, you're management material, baby. One thing: Praise only the small stuff. You don't want anyone promoted ahead of you.
Five-finger a couple of sheets of a competing firm's letterhead. Type up a glowing letter to yourself from a fictitious top-brass dude. Include "Been hearing great things about you" and "Let's do a retardedly expensive lunch." Leave the letter half covered on your desk until your boss spies it. Nothing is more impressive than having other people want you. Enjoy your raise, promotion, new company car, and private jet.
|Questions? Anything Not Work? Not Look Right? My Policy Is To Blame The Computer.|
|Oneliners, Stories, etc. | About Just For The Fun Of It | Site Navigation | Parting Shots | Google Search|
|My Other Sites: Cruisin' - A Little Drag Racin', Nostalgia And My Favorite Rides | The Eerie Side Of Things | It's An Enigma | That"s Entertainment | Just For The Fun Of It | Gender Wars | Golf And Other Non-Contact Sports | JCS Group, Inc., A little business... A little fun... | John Wayne: American, The Movies And The Old West | Something About Everything Military | The Spell Of The West | Once Upon A Time | By The People, For The People | Something About Everything Racin' | Baseball and Other Contact Sports | The St. Louis Blues At The Arena | What? Strange? Peculiar? Maybe.|