The Art of Workplace Interaction
Workplace interaction is one of the most important skills that 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 a 4 key tricks that have served me well through the years.
1. Get to Know Staff
What do they 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 would always try to have a mental profile for the personalities of the people that I have to work with.
For example, I knew that to diffuse a notoriously quick tempered coworker, I simply just had to turn the conversation to her children’s activities.By simply 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 that 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.
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 that. 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 that I’ve never loved a job that 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 that 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 that 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.