People: “You can't live with them and
you can't live without them.”
We’ve all probably said this a number of times in our lifetime particularly when it comes to our non-work life. But have you ever said this about others in the workplace? We work with people from all types of backgrounds, experiences, philosophies, etc., and to succeed both personally and professionally at work, we need to work as a team and find ways to handle the personality nuances that stand in our way.
It’s easier said than done when we’re dealing with awkward situations like:
• You’re not part of a workplace group. And, the group won’t allow you in.
• Gossip abounds (and you’re the last one to hear about it).
• People turn to others, not you, for career advice or help on a project.
• People deflect accountability for mistakes onto others.
• Some co-workers work just enough to get by and they do get by.
• People show overt favoritism to others.
• Immediate coworkers or teammates are perceived as competition.
• Finger pointing in projects not moving forward seems to be directed at you.
No matter what ethics, morals or values you bring to a job and no matter what a company’s intent is to create a positive environment, we’re just people and we bring our own individual personalities and aspirations to the workplace.
What possibly causes this awkwardness?
Interestingly, several sources suggest that our personal lives are directly connected to our workplace personalities (who we are in our personal lives) and we don’t even know it. I caught up with these examples (most of us don’t even realize it):
• Insecurity from childhood where you could not rely on your siblings and parents. This is revealed as a lack of trust in the workplace and results in being a control freak.
• Viewing suggestions and criticism as if it was from your mother-in-law, rather than from your own mother. You tend to use too many filters in interpreting comments on your work.
Kind of amazing to think that it actually might be hard to tangibly separate the personal from the business side of your personality when you arrive at the office.
Eight suggestions to improve team chemistry
So how can you do help yourself to separate the two lives, handle the awkward situations and feel good about yourself at the office and with others who you work with?
1. Do lunch or meet early for coffee. There’s nothing like food to help break though cliques and find enough commonalities that make working with different personality types easier. You get to know others at different levels. Not a new idea, but it helps and many sources suggest this as well.
2. From Inc.com, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, stated, “People typically react when their buttons get pushed. If that happens to you, take a break, breathe, and center yourself. Then respond calmly and firmly rather than getting caught up in their dances. As a role model for others, you have to be in a higher place.”
An August 2014 Today Magazine article offers a few good ideas:
3. Find out how other people like to work and adapt accordingly. Do what you can to not interrupt other people’s processes.
4. Be prepared. Learn how others act and react and prepare yourself with a response to a certain behavior.
5. Respect. Most people just want to know they are being heard. Respect each other’s strengths, ask others for input.
6. Check your own ego at the door.
7. If someone comes to you with a juicy bit of info, don’t bite.
8. Complainers. Provide constructive suggestions to their specific complaints. If they are complaining about something in particular, say, “Well, we can solve that by…”
What have you faced in the workplace and what other ideas have helped you?
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