From gossip to collaboration in the workplace. Part 2 of a 3-part series

From gossip to collaboration in the workplace. Part 2 of a 3-part series

Have you ever found yourself sitting in a meeting and wondering why someone seems so challenging to work with? Regardless of what you suggest or present, they are always critical and challenging in their response. It is almost as if their mission is to challenge you in Every. Single. Meeting.

Cue the drama…you begin arguing with this person, or maybe you find yourself caving into their approach, or rather you find yourself defensive in the meeting. Afterward, a co-worker you trust asks what happened, and you begin venting. Yet through this, nothing is solved.

Or have you worked with someone where you felt completely in sync? Maybe you seek out the same level of organization and need for detail? You both feel strongly to close the loop on any open work tasks before moving on to the next one? You want opportunities to work with this person.

Hey, this is fun…you want to see them succeed, and working with them gives you a positive boost. There is less of a need to explain yourself in why you are approaching a task a certain way. You find yourself enjoying work more.

In part one, we focused on understanding yourself. You answered questions on the pace you prefer to work at and whether you are more people or logic focused. Let us shift the view to your co-workers. By observing their behaviors, you can reduce the drama and create a better work environment when you understand how others may approach work differently than you do.

2) Observe others.

There is an adage; you cannot control what others do; only what you do. So why is this worth the effort? More than once, Leaders asked me why it seems like they put forth the most energy in work relationships. Whether it is a co-worker, employee, or supervisor, understanding what drives those around you not only minimizes the drama but increases your happiness at work.

Just as we asked the questions to understand yourself better, let us use the same process to observe others. Think of someone you work with as you answer the next two questions.

The first two questions focus on the pace they work.

Are they fast-paced or methodical?
  • Are they fast-paced and always jumping from task to task to get things accomplished quickly? Or in meetings, do you see them pushing for specific action items or outcomes?
  • Or do they have a methodical approach, where they are even-keeled and want to finish one project before getting involved in the next one? In meetings, they keep to the agenda but seem content in moving through it as needed?

The next two questions refer to how much they prefer to interact with others at work.

Are they more people or logic focused at work?
  • Do their behaviors show they are more interested in people at work? Are they always wanting to work on projects with others, do you find them making small talk before or even during meetings?
  • Or do you see their behaviors focused on logic? They rarely respond to emotional appeals and are continually asking for more clarification and details when something is new?
You should have identified your co-worker as one of the following combinations:
  1. Fast-paced & Logic-focused
  2. Fast-paced & People-focused
  3. Methodical & Logic-focused
  4. Methodical & People-focused

Last week you identified your work preferences, now that you’ve answered the same questions for a co-worker, is their style similar or different than yours? If last week you identified yourself #1 Fast-paced & Logic-focused, let’s see how you could better understand your co-worker’s style as a #2 or #3.

If you identified your co-worker as #2 being fast-paced and more focused on people. You can better understand how they approach work differently than you with the following:

  • Like you, they enjoy taking action and moving things forward.
  • Unlike you, they tend to be optimistic, adventurous, and talkative.
  • They are very expressive and want to show their enthusiasm when interacting with others.
  • Their focus on people draws them into situations where they want to collaborate with others to get work done. You may find this challenging when you want the work completed quickly.

If you identified your co-worker as being #3 methodical and more focused on logic. You can better understand how they approach work differently than you with the following:

  • Like you, they share the approach of challenge and moving things forward.
  • Unlike you, they are analytical and skeptical in their approach to work. Rarely are they the early adopter of something new and want to feel comfortable and confident they can do the work before saying yes.
  • They are very analytical and private enjoying opportunities to work alone and focus on the accuracy of their work.
  • Their desire to provide precision in their work tends to create a methodical speed, which can be frustrating for your desire to take action quickly.

3 Steps to Apply

Here are three steps to continually apply with co-workers, starting today, to fill your workdays with more enjoyment and less drama.

  1. Observe their behaviors:
    • Determine what motivates or stresses them out at work.
      1. If they prefer a methodical pace, give them time to process and prepare in learning a new project or considering a new idea.
      2. In meetings, you notice they tend to talk to everyone about work or personal life. Do they have opportunities to have a social outlet?
  1. Be Intentional:
    • Pick one thing you can do differently in interacting with them next time.
      1. When meetings or interactions have not gone well in the past, try to meet them where they are. If their work preferences are vastly different than yours, try to get closer to what they appreciate.
      2. Keep this top of mind before interacting with your co-worker to minimize the drama.
  1. Ask for Feedback:
    • Select someone you trust at work, to give you feedback about your approach when interacting with this challenging co-worker.
      1. Does the co-worker you find challenging shut down when you talk with them? If yes, how can you help them feel comfortable to be in the conversation?
      2. Keep asking for feedback to continue your growth and improving this working relationship.

In part three of this series, we are going to put it all together to stop repeating the same frustrating work scenarios over and over again. To ensure you don’t miss it follow me on LinkedIn or sign up directly on our website. You’ll gain free tips, resources, and freebies on HR and Leadership.

Did you miss part 1 of the series From gossip to collaboration in the workplace? Read it now.