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People at work: how to get along with just about everybody

We find ourselves in the company of others in many areas: work, relationships, hobbies, social events and politics. Most of the time we adapt to the situation and get along, except for politics. This newsletter will describe a powerful and useful way to improve how you get along with others at work. 

People with different behavioral styles is a critical part of who we are. If we all thought and acted the same, we could end up extinct. We need differences, we need conflicts that cause us to negotiate solutions, to accommodate, to collaborate, to think of other ways to do things. And we need to do these things without getting “hijacked by our emotions.” That can cause fights, arguments and a big waste of time, not to mention getting fired, not getting promoted and many other effects. We’re talking about professional work.

The workplace

So how about at work? We may be asked to work with others that we don’t get along with. We may have a boss or a direct report who seems to be from a different universe. We may be on a team that seems to have a different agenda or style than our own. And the organizational culture may not be what we prefer. For many reasons, we will click with some people and clack with others.

Personality tools

During the past hundred years, psychologists and researchers have done a lot of work with the idea of describing personalities from a scientific perspective to help people understand themselves and others. Before that, we just had subjective opinions and lots of catchy words to describe others. Some of these are very colorful.

Now we have some tools to help us move away from subjective opinions. And some of the tools are very effective at helping us to become more aware of our inner styles and outward behaviors. Many people have used the Myers-Briggs and the DiSC tools for this purpose, myself included as a professional coach. I think that they are very good, and I have seen excellent results with them.

For our purposes here, I propose to not use tools, but to ask you to simply rely on your own mental filters, experience and general desire to get along at work. And I propose that yes, everyone is different, and that is not good or bad, just different.

Inbound messages and your reaction/behaviors

You notice yourself reacting to another’s behavior. This behavior can include: their words, vocal tone, body language and if they walk away, or other actions. Typically, we protect ourselves and justify our reactions by characterizing that other person with some colorful thoughts and/or language: “It’s not me, they’re a xxxxx.” Well, they are who they are, and for us the important thing is to pay attention to ourselves.

Ask yourself:

How am I feeling?
What am I thinking in response to this situation?
How am I behaving?
What can I do differently?

Asking yourself these, or similar, questions can be an extremely effective tool for your toolbox. And embedded in this is the idea of accepting others for who they are.

In the end, there is a profound lesson here, which is: The only thing that we have control over is how we react and respond to things/people/events.

And as you practice this technique of self-awareness and accepting others, you will find that it not only gets easier, it gets better! The feeling of self-control is wonderful. This means not being hijacked by your emotions and perhaps doing something that you will later regret.

This does not mean that you agree with that other person. What it means is that you can professionally disagree with them and work towards a mutually acceptable situation.

Just about every interaction becomes a learning event. As you become more aware of those traits in others that you don’t like, you actually increase your own self-knowledge. Contact me for more information about this aspect.

What about your behavior towards others? How do others see you?

This will be the topic for the next newsletter. Stay tuned!

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