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

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

Ever feel like your workday is stuck in a frustrating loop? The constant back and forth of employees who will not work together, a peer who continually shoots down all of your ideas or an overall feeling of lost productivity.

The team of six-figure employees felt the same way.  Do any of their responses resonate with you?

  1. You succumbed to this work environment and feel like it is never going to change, but you plan to stay even though you are miserable. My bills are more important, right? 
  2. You decided it is better to start looking for a new job and you are hoping to find something better.  Is the grass greener?
  3. You try your hardest every day to deflect the challenges and make yourself heard, which seems only to cause you more frustration. All this energy is expended…so why is the situation worse?
  4. You feel empowered to improve your work relationships by figuring out how to connect with those who are challenging for you. Wow, is this an option?

So, how do you stop repeating the same frustrating work scenarios over and over again? 

Avoiding the conflict, leaving the organization, and becoming part of the drama is not going to improve how you feel.  It is this type of thinking that caused many on this team to have their workday challenges spill over into their home life. 

The most viable option is to empower yourself to connect with others at work.  Let me share a scenario where one leader was tasked with creating a 5-year plan.  It was something she felt strongly about and knew it would benefit the entire organization. 

What was at stake:
  • Her personal preference at work was to be supportive, and she was uncomfortable with any form of conflict.  
  • She needed the owner to approve her plan; otherwise, she would have zero chance of getting her peers to support it.  
Her first attempt:
  • Knowing this was a big conversation, she prepared the best she could and was trying to be supportive and not create conflict in the meeting.
  • During the meeting, she became frustrated the owner didn’t see the importance of the plan and how it would benefit the organization. The more this became apparent, the more emotions came out, and the harder she tried to have him agree with her. 
  • Afterward, she felt like she pushed his buttons, and the owner didn’t fully understand the concerns she was trying to express.  She was frustrated but determined to try again.
Round two:
  • She reached out to me, asking what she could do differently in the scheduled follow-up meeting. We reviewed his personality preferences
  • His work preference is very similar to hers, so he too doesn’t like conflict and wants to be seen as supportive. Instead of pushing harder, she took a step back to provide him with clear details on paper before their next meeting.
  • She gave him time to process the information, which included a specific agenda,  the plan itself, and what she needed from him in the meeting beforehand.
The outcome:
  • She helped him feel comfortable in supporting a long term plan that would not rock the boat with others. 
  • The information she provided was easy for him to relate to.  Interestingly they had a similar work preference, but the conversation was still frustrating for her.
  • Even though we each have our personality preferences, it doesn’t mean we cannot stretch into other areas.  She was passionate about the 5-year plan and came across as being too forceful in their first meeting.  
  • Ultimately he supported the plan and felt it would provide a benefit for all involved. 

The third step she used in moving from gossip to collaboration in the workplace.

 3) Optimize “we.”

Put it all together. Taking the time to understand how others approach work will help you figure out what motivates or stresses them out. If you find yourself repeating the same situation over and over, causing more frustration, try responding differently.  

This team made considerable strides in collaboration by recognizing preferences of themselves and others.  What they found in time was an increase in productivity and business results with less stress and fewer frustrations at work. 

Three steps to assist you in optimizing your working relationships: 

  1. Take a step back and figure out what is your mutual purpose with this person.  In the scenario above, she understood the positive impact her 5-year plan would have on the organization and the owner.  It would have been easy to push harder, but he may have only mirrored her behaviors. Instead, she looked hard at why it was necessary to pursue this plan and tried a new approach.                                                                                                                                                                    
  2. Think of yourself as a rubber band.  You can stretch into personality preferences that are not the most comfortable.  Similar to a rubber band, staying extended this way for long periods, can wear you out. You can always stretch when you choose to.                                                                                                       
  3. It takes intentional effort to make a difference in working relationships.  It can be something small, or it can be something larger you want to improve on. 

The team went from, Can’t we all get along to improving business results when they learned how to shift from gossip to collaboration in the workplace.  

 Here is a quick review of what I covered in the 3-part series. 

  1. Understand what drives you
  2. Learn to observe others’ approach to situations
  3. Optimize ‘we’ and stretch your style

If you are a Business Leader or Human Resources Professional schedule your confidential, complimentary Optimize Working Relationships session where we’ll examine the top 3 challenges you are experiencing right now in your workplace and the number 1 action you can take to start turning that around. Book here.

To ensure you don’t miss future blogs, follow me on LinkedIn or sign up directly on our website. You’ll gain free tips, resources, and freebies on HR and Leadership.