Living in perfect harmony with work colleagues.
OK so you don’t actually live at work (well most of us don’t). But the average person in the UK spends 8800 hours each year alongside colleagues. Your experience in the workplace impacts on your home life, your family, your social interactions and to a huge extent your health. Whether you plan to stay in your current job or move on, getting along with those you work with is crucial.
It doesn’t need to be perfect harmony, but there are ways of getting through each day without anxiety over interactions with people who really aren’t your cup of tea.
When it comes for working within a company, big or small, you may inevitably come across some characters that are hard to get along with. Unfortunately, some people just aren’t very nice or lack the social skills that make them likeable. Some people don’t make good managers. It may be that a colleague is under extreme pressure or may just be having a bad day. As long as they aren’t overstepping the mark and you don’t need to raise any issues of real concern, the way you relate to each and every colleague can keep you calm, productive and ultimately advance your career.
You can’t change other people, but you can adapt the way you interact with them. The onus is on you to always be professional and most of the time, you’ll come out with positive results.
Does this mean you have to be submissive? Absolutely not. Building respect is key, so think about the way you phrase your interactions, and even more importantly any apologies you find you have to make.
· Respect needs to be mutual. As I said before, unless something is really awry, make sure you treat others well and be respectful of their role, however junior or senior they might be.
· Be mindful that everyone has their own worries and pressures, at work and at home. Don’t be a pushover, but also don’t jump to conclusions without offering a way for that someone to work through their challenges or to open up to you if they feel ready to.
· They say that manners cost nothing. Neither does a smile. Keep your interactions professional but show your human side. Thank people for their contributions and do your bit to help to keep motivation up.
· Be reliable. Relationships are built on trust so do what you’ve said you’ll do, and if you can’t make sure you keep up communications so that expectations can be reset.
· As my mother told me, “you have two ears and one mouth”. So be the good listener! Communication is two way and you never know what you might learn by remaining open to other people’s ideas.
· Don’t get swept up in negativity, office politics or general bitching. It’s not good for your reputation and it’s definitely not good for your soul. Stay calm, agree to disagree if a resolution seems unlikely, and if necessary, escalate the issue to those above you.
· If you have a problem with someone, their attitude or their work, find the right words to explain how you feel. Even better, suggest how you think you may be able to work together to improve things. Never, ever rant or humiliate a colleague in front of others. It’s just not cool. And don’t grumble about someone to other colleagues in a non-constructive way. It’s one thing asking your superior for guidance, but if you’re just plain moaning, you may become known as someone who complains about others behind their backs.
Most of all, having a healthy attitude towards colleagues leaves you to focus your efforts on your workload and for you to be the best you can be.
Written by Lorna Dunn
Freelance Marketing Consultant, Pure Communications Cambridge Limited