It’s difficult to get along with people. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them and sometimes it’s the situation. The only constant is that we need to work at it just about all of the time. This is what makes us gravitate toward friends that are easy for us to get along with. This is what can make family drive us crazy, as we do NOT get to choose them. Thankfully with family there are enough common threads (like, as in those double helix threads- DNA), history and love to make it worth the work.
Speaking of work, coworkers are like family in that we don’t really get to choose them, and yet there is really no other incentive to get along. Well, I guess sanity and a pleasant, functional work environment are good reasons. So without further ado, I will list how I go about trying to navigate work relationships. I am by no means an expert, but these are some core things that work for me. It’s taken me a long time to figure them out and put them into practice. I’ve definitely learned some things the hard way (i.e. Horrible, awkward, emotional work situations). Can’t we all just get along?
1. Be A Professional First
There isn’t much fault to be found in a person diligently and reliably doing their job. While it may not be “you” or “your personality”, few people dislike or pick at a responsible and professional colleague. Put your duties first, and let your shining personality take a backseat for a bit. That is what you are there to do. You can let people in on the “real you” outside of work, and even at work over time once you have established how great you are at what you do.
2. Be Nice
Treat everyone with respect and kindness. You know the deal, the good old “Golden Rule”. Don’t treat anyone in a manner that you would find hurtful (trust me, you will feel better for it in the long run, too). There is no need to overdo it, we don’t want to fall into the valley of the pushover, but just don’t be the person that people dread talking to.
3. Try To Stay Positive
Now, I am just as cynical and jaded as the next person… But I try to keep it to myself until I know who I can trust with my true nature. For me sarcasm and negativity is a source of humor, and a coping mechanism- Not everyone sees it that way though. Stay upbeat and cooperative (but PLEASE, not TOO upbeat. That can be equally draining).
4. Remember: We Are All Just People
Again, work isn’t the place to put your personal life and emotions on display. This gets problematic though when we forget them altogether though. It gets easier to be cold to people, or to fail to understand them and dismiss them when we only see “work selves”. Remember people have their own problems and lives that they are dealing with outside of work, just like you. This helps me have an extra bit of patience on the days when I feel like I am going to stab myself in the eyeballs.
5. Be Honest In Your Interactions
Work is not the place to be cute, coy, withholding, passive aggressive or dishonest. I mean this for everything. Tell people what you are doing, what you want, what you need, what went well and what is bothering you in plain honest words. If someone pays you a compliment, say thank you. If someone treats you poorly, let them know it made you feel bad. If someone did something well, let them know. I can’t emphasize enough how important stripped down and honest communication can be in the workplace.
6. Don’t Slack Off
No need to explain this, and I am sure none of you are slackers, but my Mom beat this into my poor little brain so I had to let it make the list.
7. Be On Time
Excuses are only excuses. Eventually people just see you as the late person, and no matter how lovely and charming you are, it causes a low-grade chronic irritation in the people you work with. Do whatever you need to do to be as punctual as possible. I know this goes without saying, but it is really easy to run late and it is a really easy habit to form.
8. Be A Yes Person
Help people out if you can whenever you can. Again, don’t be a doormat, but be a team player and people will have your back no matter what.
9. Be Interested In What You Do
I know this isn’t always easy. However, if you can keep your curiosity and your desire to learn piqued in some way with what you do it will go a long way.
10. Control Your Temper
I have what one might call a reasonable “short fuse”. I’m impatient, I’m sarcastic, I have a really low threshold for being annoyed and I’m sensitive. Sort of a powder keg. The most difficult thing for me to do is to leave my temper at the door. Often times this leads to hour long fantasies of “Street Me” encountering some people at work who piss me off. The fantasies have to be enough. My work self counts to ten (or ten thousand), controls eye rolls, breathes deeply, goes to my happy place (or violent fantasy of choice), whatever it takes. The temper should stay in check. In doing this, when you actually are justly angry and express it calmly and rationally, people listen.
(I still don’t think I got my point across to the pediatrics resident I SCREAMED at for like 10 minutes years ago…)
11. Try Not To Gossip
This is so hard. Talking shhhh is one of my favorite sports. Seriously. I could listen to gossip for days, even about people I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. But it is only trouble at work. You can listen if you must, and sometimes you learn pretty juicy things just being around… But keep your mouth shut. Or talk to your pet. Or journal. Or make a painting. I don’t know, just don’t be the work gossip. It never goes well.
I can’t say Happy New Year anymore – I hear you are supposed to stop after January 6th. But I would have said it before. What tips do you have for getting along with people in the work place? Thanks for reading!
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