The Art of Workplace Interaction
Workplace interaction is one of the most important skills a person can acquire. We have all worked with those difficult people who have personalities that are just brutal to deal with. Admittedly, this does take an incredible amount of fortitude and practice. Fortunately, early in my career I worked closely with someone who was highly respected not only because of his job knowledge, but even more so because of his uncanny ability to interact with individuals of all types. He taught me 4 key tricks which have served me well through the years.
1. Get to Know Staff For Your Own Advantage
What do your coworkers and team members like to talk about? Family, hobbies, sports? Remember the things they enjoy. Be a listener and not a talker. Are they laid back or combustible? Use these things to your advantage for future dealings/situations. I always try to have a mental profile for the personalities of the people that I have to work with.
For example, I knew to diffuse a notoriously quick tempered coworker, I simply just had to turn the conversation to her children’s activities. By showing interest towards a topic she felt passionate about, she was then putty in my hands. She would often get sidetracked talking about her kids and then forget about what she was upset with. The potential confrontation was avoided. And were able to get back to conducting business.
Sometimes a person has to choose their battles. I could have engaged and started a bickering match but really what does that solve? Nothing! It is a complete waste of time and energy.
2. Stay out of the Gossip Circles, Keep a Low Profile
This helps to keep the target off of your back and decreases the chances of unneeded drama. I have seen a good workplace divided because of this person not liking that person. Of course, people often talk about it during their breaks and then sides have to be chosen. If I hear someone bashing another person behind their back, it immediately throws up a red flag indicating someone I don’t want to be associated with. Don’t let others develop this attitude towards you! It is much wiser to stay focused on my own business than to get sucked into the negativity of office gossip and show some restraint.
When in the office, I stayed away from the break areas. Not just because of the gossipers, but my introverted self would rather not participate. Also, by having a short little commute meant having lunch at home. I remember trying to each lunch at the office but then I started to get asked questions regarding people’s home computers and other devices. Didn’t take long before I said the heck with that. I’ll sit at home and enjoy a quiet lunch. So much better!
Some people ASSume when you are an IT guy, that’s all you want to talk about and would love to help everyone with their problems at home too. Not so much.
3. Be Firm, but Respectful
It’s acceptable to be firm but show others the respect that is deserved. Stick up for yourself and your truths but do it the right way. Don’t have a chip on your shoulder and hope that someone knocks it off. Nobody wants a coworker like this. However, it’s OK to disagree. Just do it professionally. A person without a backbone will not get admiration from fellow coworkers. Even those who like the occasional debate will have a high regard for someone who will stand ground on their beliefs.
4. Be NICE!
Have a good attitude and be approachable. If you don’t love the job or aren’t having the best of days, fake it! I’ve had many people comment on how I always seem to be in a good mood or always smiling. Well, I can promise you I’ve never loved a job so much to be always chipper about it. I’ve had plenty of days where things just don’t go my way. However, I’ve found if you are pleasant to people, most of the time (not always), they will be nice right back to you. What a concept!!! It’s just not terribly difficult to create positive workplace interaction. Finally, by taking the higher road and being the person in the workplace who is able to diffuse a bad situation, may also help you earn a favorable performance review.
Figure Out Your Supervisor
It is so very important to gain favor with the supervisor since they can control your destiny in the workplace. Want a raise or a promotion? Not happening without a boss who is at least somewhat pleased with your work. How about the ability to work from home either full-time or partially? You need to win the boss over to have a chance of teleworking. Here are some tips:
- Make your boss look good. Get projects and assignments done efficiently and perhaps even more important, flawlessly.
- Determine what tasks are valued the most by your supervisor and make them your highest priority. If you are able to get the most valued work done consistently, good things will happen to your career.
- Understand your supervisor’s communication style. I prefer to make a quick phone call to feel out importance or urgency of certain assignments. Sometimes it is hard to gauge emotion from an email.
- Offer to take the reigns on big assignments. Show the initiative to take on the task and nail the sucker.
- Show interest in your boss’s personal life. My boss and I often chat about our families and the kids. It’s a nice way to break up the monotony of the work day.
Workplace Interaction Plays A Key Role To Your Future
The stuff written above regarding coworkers and supervisors is so important to master. If you can’t find a way to get along with people, it is going to be an uphill battle throughout your career. Most jobs are tedious enough the way it is, why not make things easier on yourself when possible? When you win at workplace interaction, the job becomes so much easier.