Colleagues are people and people bring troubles. Whether it’s their sick child that interferes with their workload, an ill parent that makes them leave the office each quarter or the smell of lunch. Anyone who works with other people needs an easy and delightful way to handle coworkers and their lives. Fellow workers aren’t out to get you – they’re simply trying to live their lives. But for those who have to pick up the slack, inconvenient hassles are major distractions.
I’m a big believer in collaboration. I like working with others and seeing a project through. I come from the acting world and each performance was a project to complete. But when my peers aren’t pulling their weight (and who among us hasn’t seen this… ) it can be annoying and bring out our worst selves. So I came up with a few strategies that I teach others.
#1. Keep inconvenient troubles away from the simmering point.
In other words, speak up early and often. Understand the rules and regs. Figure out where the boundaries are and ask for help. When you do this, you stand a better chance of remaining cool rather than losing it with your associates.
Saying that I know it’s not easy! But what my clients find is that when they speak up, they remain more professional. And they’re able to persuade their superiors to help solve the issue at hand.
#2. Colleagues are people with real-life concerns.
The pressure of raising a family or managing a home is omnipresent. We know that. Which makes it hard because we feel guilty when other people’s stuff interfere with doing our jobs.
I like to remind clients that it’s amazing that anything works. And that most people are desperate for some positive feedback. By being grateful and complimentary, you offer a break from everyday stress. You also reward the things that move things forward.
Complimenting your difficult colleague may initially feel weird. But you’ll be surprised how doing so changes the entire atmosphere in your office. There’s a ripple effect that lifts the spirits of everyone.
#3. You may say “no” to taking on your colleagues’ stuff.
In reality, the culture of a workplace colors how far people will push. If you find you’re always the one to pick up the slack, perhaps, the environment isn’t for you.
I don’t advocate leaving a good job because of others’ bad behavior. But I also don’t suggest staying put. “Fish rot from the head” and if you’ve done you’re best to play nice, perhaps, it’s best for you to find an organization that has better HR systems in place. We spend too much time at work to be unhappy.
Working with others, you should expect difficulties. Even though inconvenient troubles abound wherever people gather, chances are it’s not your problem to solve. Collaboration is one thing, being taken advantage of is another. Try these suggestions and let me know your results. If you get stuck, reach out, I’ll be happy to help.