Ever wonder why there’s that one person in your office or on your team who for whatever reason you just seem to have the wrong chemistry with? Nothing is really outright hostile, it’s just that there’s some kind of intangible distance between the two of you, and it bugs you.
I’d say everything in that paragraph above is good and healthy actually, except for the last three words; “It bugs you.” How logical is it to expect let alone even want EVERYBODY to be on the very best of terms with you? It is precisely because we are so very different from one another that the expectation that everybody we come into contact with and work with will get along with us all the time, and warm to us is unrealistic.
We do all need to respect and work with one another though. And if you flip this around, you may find yourself in a situation where you know you don’t click with that other person and it bothers you because you want to like everyone else and in a weird kind of way feel guilty because no matter how you look at things, you just don’t feel that positive connection you want in your perfect team.
So what to do about it is the question. Well for starters, is it necessary for you to be friends with all the people you work with? There are many people who get along well with those they work with, but never get together for drinks after work, go to lunch with or spend their breaks with. If you are like most people, you do have a few people who you gravitate towards more often at work, and you have others who you get along just fine with and highly respect, but don’t hang with.
I work for example on a team of 13 people when I look at the staff list. Of those 13, 1 is the Supervisor, 1 is a Team Clerk, 1 Front Reception and 10 of us are Employment Counsellors. Now suppose I was in a position to assemble my so-called, ‘Dream Team.’ From all the people in the office, I got to choose the Supervisor, Clerks and fellow Employment Counsellors that would make up my team. Would I be best served by hand-picking those who most resemble my own beliefs, values and work ethic? Should I choose one or two that don’t so that the team has some variables in it that might resonate with some clients more effectively?
Well, I’ve never really gone so far as to fill out the ‘dream team’ roster in my mind. I have however thought of those whom I would most like to retain on the team, and yes whom I would replace. Does this make me a bad person? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m willing to bet that I’m not on some of those people’s dream team either. Does that make them bad co-workers? Absolutely not.
Fact is, it’s healthy to have people who come to the job with different backgrounds, philosophies, experiences, education, and perspectives. We all learn more from one another often when this is precisely the case because we are challenged to see things differently from our own experiences would have us do otherwise. What we DO have to do however is respect the people we might find most challenging to work with.
So for example, if the schedule calls for me to co-facilitate a workshop with someone who rubs me the wrong way or I even feel indifferent to, AND I LET IT SHOW, then I’m in danger of having my audience pick up on that tension, and the learning experience has the potential to be stressful because of the unintended non-verbal communication between us, or the outright verbal disagreements that could erupt.
And yet, sometimes it is a great learning opportunity for our clients to see how two facilitators who differ on something; say whether to ask about the pay in an interview or not, present their own opinions without slamming the other person’s right to have a different point of view. I hope you can attest to and see the positive nature of how this could really benefit an audience.
Okay so let’s look at you. Think about your own workplace. Think about a person, or maybe a few people who you honestly admit rub you the wrong way or you feel a disconnect with. Is it likely that they feel the same way about you? Now you’ve got to ask yourself one important question. How important is it to me and to those around me, that I take steps to improve this relationship?
If you find yourself answering that it isn’t all that important, you’re not likely to do anything about that frayed relationship. The only danger in this however is that if you don’t take any steps to improve things, things will either stay the way they are now or deteriorate further and can you risk that? If on the other hand, a more positive relationship would benefit you, and by association them, then find small ways to improve things. A compliment on clothing, wishing them a good night. Small stuff that could lead to bigger changes.
Not everyone needs to think of you as Teammate of the Year, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in the attempt to improve working relationships.
Written By Kelly Mitchell
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