Probably more people than you realize spend the majority of their time working with others in an employment-related situation. And, unless they’re lucky, these individuals don’t get to pick who their co-workers are. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to get along with others. This can cause all kinds of difficult situations, making it almost impossible to get through the day.
Working well with others is crucial in any situation. However, it’s even more important in a workplace environment. Why? It boils down to things like efficiency, productivity and employee morale… just to name a few.
The size of the company or business you work for really doesn’t matter. The rules are basically the same if you work with one other person or 1,000. Each individual deserves the same level of consideration.
Have you ever noticed the phrase “must work well with others” in the job description or on the application during your job search? If so, there’s a very good reason for this. Employers do not want to hire individuals who don’t work well with others. It typically causes problems right from the beginning.
In this case, “others” can be defined as everyone you come into contact with while on the job. Obviously, the answer is going to be different for everyone. However, it can include the boss, your co-workers, the customers or clients you interact with, any vendors you utilize, the HR team, maintenance or cleaning staff… the list goes on.
Why It Can Be Challenging to Work with Others
There are several reasons why it can be challenging to work with others. Many people tend to bring their egos to their job site. It could be that these individuals are really self-conscious and unsure of themselves underneath. So, they use a big ego as a cover-up.
The Importance of Respect
If everyone on the job isn’t being treated with respect, it can be bad for business. If you don’t feel like you’re being treated with respect at work, it can be extremely difficult to do your best. The same is true of your co-workers. They may not be able to perform their duties efficiently if and when their confidence has been put into check by a disrespectful co-worker.
Mutual respect between workers also helps to foster an environment of co-operation between members of the team. If you respect the people you work with, it’s much easier to work with them toward achieving a goal. If you don’t have any respect for your co-workers or their abilities, why would you count on them to help you out?
12 Essential Skills and Habits You Need to Work with Others
There are numerous essential skills and habits you need to work well with others. Developing the proper habits, early on, helps put you on track to things like higher pay and leadership opportunities. Since more and more companies are deciding to hire within, these things are more important than ever before.
- Take Responsibility
It’s always important to take responsibility for things that you do, especially when something goes wrong. No one is perfect. All but a few unrealistic employers realize that. If you make a mistake and claim that it wasn’t your fault, not only are you not telling the truth, you’re also giving the impression that you weren’t in control of the situation.
By taking responsibility, you’ll probably notice two things. Firstly, your co-workers will likely be more willing to help you correct the problem and help you to succeed. Secondly, these same individuals will be more comfortable around you, knowing that you are honest and will never place the blame on someone else.
2. Keep an Open Mind
Even in situations where you know you are 100 per cent correct, it’s always advisable to keep an open mind. This is especially true when you happen to be in a managerial position. Why? If you’re never open to new or alternate ideas, you may come across as someone who knows it all. When this happens, people typically get defensive very quickly and it’s downhill from there.
It’s much more productive to show a little bit of humility and concern about truly finding the right answer for every issue and situation. Because everyone has a different problem-solving process, teamwork really has the potential to resolve issues and come up with great ideas much faster.
3. Honour Your Commitments
Always try to allow enough time to complete projects promptly, even when something unexpected comes up. It’s much better to give yourself more time than necessary to finish whenever you’re working on, rather than to underestimate the time needed to complete the assignment. This way, you don’t have to worry about disappointing your employer or your colleagues.
Go the extra mile. Always follow up on things, whenever possible. This accomplishes two things. One, it strengthens workplace relationships. Two, it provides you with important feedback regarding your performance.
4. Practice Proper Hygiene
Whether you’re working with the public or in a back office, practising proper hygiene is essential when working with others. No one wants to be around someone who smells bad or looks like they slept in their clothing. This doesn’t mean you have to dress like the rich and famous. It simply means to shower daily and come to work looking and smelling presentable.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider purchasing clothing at local thrift stores. You can pick up great deals on clothing that’s perfectly suitable for work. These stores typically stock a wide variety of business attire at fantastic prices. You just have to be there at the right time, which is on the days that the store gets deliveries.
5. Turn Off Your Phone
Almost everyone has a cell phone these days. If you work in a large office, constant ringing can be a major distraction. Unless you need your phone for work purposes, turn it off or put it away. Quickly reading a text message when someone is speaking to you is extremely rude. It gives the impression that your phone is more important than your job. Make a habit of checking your messages or making quick calls during your breaks or lunch period.
6. Share Credit
When applicable, sharing credit with your co-workers is a sure sign that you work well with others. Not only will that person or individuals like you even more than they did before, but you’ll also probably gain a higher level of respect as well.
On the other hand, if you don’t share credit when credit is due, you’ll gain a reputation as someone selfish and out to sabotage everyone else in an attempt to get ahead. If you happen to get away with this without anyone complaining, don’t waste your time celebrating. In reality, the truth usually prevails and you won’t get ahead – you may just find yourself in the unemployment line instead.
7. Don’t Interrupt
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation, only to be constantly interrupted? It’s annoying, isn’t it? For that reason, never be “the interrupter.” Even if you have a great idea that you can’t wait to share, wait until it’s your turn to talk. Take a deep breath and relax. You’ll be sharing your news or idea before you know it.
Here’s a little secret. Some individuals aren’t all that impressed when you talk, regardless of how fantastic your idea is. These people would much rather talk about themselves. So, when you let them do the talking first, it’s a good way to get them to love you. After that, they may be all the more receptive to what you say.
The act of smiling is often referred to as a person’s most powerful gesture. Science can back up the fact that individuals who smile often are not only happier, they’re more successful as well. Even better – smiling doesn’t cost you a penny. It’s free to smile and watch the world (or at least the people you work with) smile right back at you.
It’s interesting to note that some training modules for phone-related customer service positions require agents to keep a small mirror by their phones. This way, the agent can make sure they’re smiling when they speak to the customer. Believe it or not, the person at the other end of the receiver can usually hear the smile in the agent’s voice. It makes for a much more pleasant interaction between the two, and many times higher sales.
9. Utilize Resources
Working well with others, to the best of your ability, sometimes involves utilizing resources. Depending on where you work and your job description, many companies provide all kinds of options for you to take advantage of.
These resources can be things like seminars, training sessions, fitness programs, no-cost safety equipment, mental health and family counselling, and more. If you run across a good resource you think would benefit your workplace environment and your co-workers, don’t hesitate to mention it to your manager or boss. Who knows? You might even get a small reward or bonus for taking the initiative to recommend something that might help your company succeed.
10. Don’t Be a Noise Maker
In the event your employer allows you to listen to music or something similar, don’t be a noisemaker. Wear headphones or keep the volume at a non-distracting level. Remember, not everyone will have the same taste in music as you do. If your co-workers don’t enjoy what they hear, you’ll probably make it more difficult for them to concentrate and get their job done properly. Unless you’re a rock musician or an auctioneer, the time to make noise is after the workday is done.
11. Respect Boundaries
Your job might require you to share a space with your co-workers, whether it’s a cubicle, office, or vehicle. If you are near others while you work, make sure that you respect their boundaries and encourage them to respect yours in return.
Try not to have phone calls about non-work-related matters if your cubicle mate is quietly focused on a project. Also, try not to divulge too much about your personal life, because this may be too much information for some people. These boundaries will differ from person to person, so if you aren’t sure if your behaviour is going to annoy your co-worker, it may be best to ask first.
12. Learn to Let Go
Once you’ve had a dispute with a co-worker, it can be difficult to get your relationship with them back to a state where you can work together effectively. If the dispute has been resolved, the best thing that you can do is move on to focus on work. Of course, your co-worker will have to focus on letting go too.
If they still seem upset over the issue, see if they’re willing to talk about it. If they tell you why they’re still not satisfied after the dispute was settled, do what you can to make things right between the two of you. If problems persist between the two of you, it may be best to inform your boss or supervisor.