Help! I’m Working With People I Don’t Like!
Even the folks who rave about loving their job can sometimes find themselves unfortunately working with people they don’t like. Some may say it doesn’t really matter whether you like your co-workers. What matters is your ability to work with them professionally. I agree, that we may not always like the individuals with whom we work, but it is often better when we do. Interestingly, sometimes work relationships take on an almost familial form of dysfunction. People have learned, however, that at work they have more options to turn an unfavorable work environment into something more favorable, even if that requires changing jobs.
How can I remedy a co-worker’s annoying habits?
That’s a tall order. If there were a magic wand to offer as a solution I bet your colleague might be waving it over your head too. Interestingly enough, just as we have complaints about our co-workers others may have concerns about our work habits. Rather than focus on changing our co-workers it may be more valuable to understand what we can do to contribute to a more harmonious and collaborative environment.
What can I do to create a more favorable work place?
Invite People To Join The Team. Overall, if you feel where you work is a good place to work, your boss is fair, and you get to contribute in a meaningful way, invite folks you trust and would want to work with to join the team. Encourage them to apply for openings. Share their resume with the recruiting team, your boss, other leaders and decision makers. This is your chance to help influence who’s on the team.
Put It In Perspective. A public challenge to your opinion may not be a co-worker’s attempt to undermine you. It may just be that they have another perspective, and that’s okay. We each have to be open to another way of looking at a situation. Bottom-line, recognize what is a preference or personal concern versus an unacceptable behavior. Don’t expect to love every co-worker and end the day singing Kumbya. It’s more important to:
- Enjoy the work that you do
- Believe that overall you’re working with capable people who do good work
- Feel that your contribution makes a positive difference
Take appropriate and timely action. When co-workers behave inappropriately it’s important to address the issue. If it bothers you enough to think about it for a prolonged period and possibly consult with colleagues about it, then you probably need to find an appropriate solution. Assess whether thoughtfully confronting the person about the behavior will make a difference. You have to determine whether working in the current environment is worth it. Ask yourself, is it time to find a place more deserving of your commitment?
What are tips for handling some common problems people have experienced at work?
Following are three typical situations we often receive questions about:
- Strange smells & gross habits at work can affect concentration and one’s desire to get work done. Whatever the cause, it is especially important to be sensitive and respectful when addressing concerns related to body odor, unusual food smells, flatulence, lice, coughing, or even snorting. Addressing these types of concerns requires:
- Direct, simple, and respectful communication
Having a positive relationship with the individual may allow you to safely and respectfully share your observation privately. If not, ask your boss to help. Be open to challenges as additional information may shift your perspective about the matter.
- Using profanity at work is typically viewed as “unprofessional”. Most people recognize that things can sometimes get heated, especially when we’re passionate about a topic. There is a distinct difference between letting profanity slip and actually addressing someone using profane language. I had a coaching client who recently shared that a co-worker cursed him out for asking about an event. The individual was the owner’s sister-in-law and was known for her abusive behavior. In this instance it was an unfortunate and hurtful experience, but it was also a situation where the individual did not feel safe confronting the behavior. The organization did not have any stated protocols for reporting such concerns outside of leaving the job. In this instance the individual made the decision to look for another job.
- My boss makes me feel uncomfortable. One of the saddest situations I dealt with involved a young woman whose boss regularly spoke negatively about her to others in the business. Despite positive performance evaluations the individual felt uncomfortable at work, especially after peers shared specific remarks her manager was allegedly making about her. This is a difficult situation, which ultimately resulted in the woman leaving the organization, however, if she had felt comfortable broaching the topic with her boss there may have been a different outcome. In this scenario to create a more positive work environment an individual may need to:
- Assess the relationship with the boss – do you trust him/her and believe he/she is open to your concern(s)
- Understand the company’s policies and procedures for raising a concern and reaching a resolution
- Be aware of your responsibility in creating the desired outcome
Have you worked effectively through challenging interactions at work? Share your tips for successfully creating a more positive work environment. Consilium Human Capital is a Strategic Business Partner of Profiles International. We provide information that enables individuals, business owners, and executives to make better decisions about people. To learn more email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Regrets, Just A Well Executed Plan
By Rosalie Robinson
I had a colleague challenge me to think about four things that if I didn’t do them in the next six months I’d look back and wish I had. Just that phrase touched a spot in me, a tender spot filling with “regret”. I couldn’t believe the tears that suddenly welled up and ran down my cheek like an overflowing bucket. It made me realize that the dream I had launched at the beginning of the year, to be an independent business owner, was in jeopardy of dying on the vine as woeful regret.
I kicked off 2014 with a new business. I had done my due diligence in partnership with two other colleagues to start a consulting firm. Or at least I told myself I had done my homework. I was fully committed to the dream we crafted together over the prior four months. We spent hours planning, writing business plans, financials, reviewing the competition. Imagine my surprise when I woke up in April to find that I actually hadn’t done the work I thought and that my partners were really “residents in a co-op”. I played the words of one of my virtual “mentors”, Mark Cuban, in my head, “to be a successful entrepreneur…takes willingness to learn, to be able to focus, to absorb information, and to always realize that business is a 24/7 job.” I didn’t notice any mention of pity or regret. But that’s kind of where I found myself, having a momentary pity party and regretting something that would not become a reality without some additional hard work.
I realized that I would have a bigger problem in six months if I didn’t pull myself up by the bootstraps immediately, learn a couple of very valuable lessons, and move forward and I mean quickly. I immediately sprang into action rewriting my business plan focusing only on my coaching and human resources practice.
- Lesson #1, partnerships are great but they need to be well defined, have mutual commitment and offer mutual benefit to all parties. It’s all about the systematic approach to achieving my mission and helping my partner achieve theirs.
- Lesson #2, success is more likely when executing a well-confirmed business plan understand the details required to make your business run, monthly financials, projections, client flow, and lead generation.
- Lesson #3, even more important is a clearly defined value proposition. What’s the value that you bring? I honed in on my unique strengths as a human resources leader and executive leadership and career transitions coach and defined these services.
I don’t really know how this will all turn out but I know I am not going to have any regrets because I didn’t make the required effort, ran at the first sign of hard work, or let doubts sway me away from what trusted business advisors have said is definitely viable, what my clients have reaffirmed can work and what I believe. I am hitting the “re-set” button on this dream, moving it from an idea to reality starts now with the well-formed plan. Monday I have an important client meeting and I am prepared to close the deal and win one client at a time.
Fear Is A Four-Letter Word for Entrepreneurs
By Patti Villalobos
Growing up, my father helped people get loans to start small businesses. I remember friends whose fathers were doctors. That sounded cool. Or worked for the post office. I knew what the postman did. What does an 8-year old know about consulting?
My siblings and I used to visit my dad’s office on weekends. So, although it’s 40 something years later, may I sincerely apologize to his co-workers for having to put up with our odd paper-clip statues, pencil forts, and copies of body parts we left strewn on your desks. Oh, and I hope you found your family photographs we stashed in random file cabinets. Yeah, um, really sorry…See, watching dad work with his endless papers and forms was b.o.r.i.n.g.
But then, there was this other part – the times our family walked into one of the businesses he had helped in some way. There was a Chinese restaurant that was so beautiful and exotic, with its large wooden Buddha adorning a circular booth. My sister said she loved that statue, and all of a sudden, the grateful proprietor was thrusting it into my father’s hands despite his protests of, “no, no!” There was the Mexican restaurant in New Mexico where we were treated like royalty, and we couldn’t pay a check if we tried. There was the ski rental shop owner who had the added mystique of skiing on one leg. Dozens and dozens of business owners so appreciative to the man with the magic touch who helped them navigate the labyrinth of bureaucracy to get the bank loans or credit they needed. It was quite surreal to be in the spillover of their indebted appreciation.
Patti and her Dad
What I didn’t realize, until many years later, was that the real heroes were the lady who actually owned the Chinese restaurant; the family who ran the Mexican restaurant; the ski rental shop owner. It was the men and women who lived and breathed their businesses. See, to us it was an adventure to visit; to them, it was putting everything on the line. It was their survival, their mortgage, their children’s college fund, or a springboard to better life.
What I know now, not only from personal experience but also from having worked with people who run their own business, is it takes courage. You step out with some genius idea, a magic touch with people, a brilliant patent, or a talent in an arena where talented people are a dime a dozen. Sometimes destiny encourages you out on your own via downsizing; sometimes, it’s a run-in with people of small mind who can’t understand your vision. Whatever the motivation, I guarantee you also bring some FEAR.
“What if I can’t make it?”
“What if I step out and I’m judged.”
“What if I expose myself, my family, my dream, and I fail.”
More and more courageous people are launching bold ideas in creative and unprecedented ways. The old order is crumbling, and yet there are people driven to do something different. Can’t get credit? Don’t have the money for a brick-and-mortar store? Publisher won’t talk to you? Launching a business so cutting-edge, or off-the-grid, you’re not sure even how to market it? FEAR says you can’t succeed. Fear covers her ears and eyes and burrows deeper into your soul until you vibrate with unease, finding it hard to breathe.
COURAGE, instead, says “enough.” She lifts your head, so that with unflinching gaze you can look clear-eyed into the depths of fear, recognizing it for what it is: the clenching against the unknown. So with deep breath and even deeper trust, you just move forward. It may not be comfortable at times, but I for one would rather embrace courage and be propelled forward, alive and afraid, rather than to simply survive, stifled and numb.
Because after that, fear is simply a 4-letter word.
Three Steps to Achieving Business Well-Being
By Patti Villalobos
Your Level of Well-Being = Your Business’ Level of Well-Being
Okay. I will admit it. I am a recovering adrenaline junky. Or maybe it was a control junky. Or maybe I just took off the mantle of “Responsible for the Known Universe.” Whatever it was, I know that today my life flows with an ease that I’ve never known, and a peace that I never knew possible.
And that is NOT because life is easy right now. It is not easy launching another new business while getting a handle on complex health challenges. It’s exciting, but it’s not easy. So what changed? So many things, but two of the biggest changes have been in my attitude towards balance and creativity.
Many years ago, in the midst of an enormous project that was so behind schedule it was unrecoverable, I was overseas presenting to The Big Kahuna. A mere two minutes into the presentation, in front of a room full of peers and higher ups, he launched into a screaming tirade because of the project dates. When I say screaming, I mean vein-bulging-red-faced-accent-tinged cursing and berating the teams on both sides of the Atlantic. I’m sure it was only 5 minutes or so, but in that surreal moment, it felt like hours. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my… He’s going fall over from a stroke…and not a single person here is going to help him!”
Several weeks later, when my husband called at 5pm to ask if I wanted to go to a yoga class, I yelled into the phone, “Are you kidding me? I AM TOO STRESSED TO GO TO YOGA CLASS!” Yes, the irony…
Whether in a family, a small business, or a giant corporation, if the people at the top are out-of-balance and stressed, then so is the rest of the “family.” In counseling, Family Systems theory talks about the interconnectedness and interdependence of family members. Well, organizational health follows the same principles: if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
So what does that mean for as a business owner? If you are “mama” or “papa” to your organization, it means choosing to prioritize your personal well-being is not an option. You either learn how to do it, or you will create chaos in your business. Period. That is NOT good for your health, your employees’ well-being, your customers, or your bottom line.
Here’s what I have learned through experience is:
1. Balance is not a static state, a goal you achieve and check off your list. It is, as a yoga instructor once taught me, a series of constant little adjustments that you make. You will have to practice and be mindful. You will fall when you add something new. That’s part of gaining muscle memory and strength. In business and personal life, it requires the same thing: practice and continuous small and large adjustments, until you find what works for you.
Yep, this is me demonstrating the Crow yoga pose!
2. Balance is also about courage. One of my most difficult poses (Crow, for you yoga aficionados) isn’t so much about me not having the strength; it’s about me not having the courage to lean forward enough. Out “there” feels vulnerable, like I’m going to land on my face. When I was coached past that point, I found that sweet spot where balance was possible. In business and personal life, you may need to give up what feels comfortably uncomfortable, or set some courageous boundaries, in order to find your sweet spot.
3. If you neglect your creative mind, you are missing a crucial tool for problem solving. Think of a time when you wrestled with a problem that seemed utterly unsolvable. The way out of a soul-draining dead end usually does not include banging your head against the wall at the end of the hallway. Step away from the problem and see in a different way. Oh look! I could turn right! There is a different path I was unaware of in the blindness of my self-imposed headache! In business and personal life, making time for left-right brain integration via creativity reaps rewards you cannot even begin to fathom until you make this a priority.
Integrating more creativity and well-being into your life requires more than just saying you’re going to do it; you need the desire, a plan, and then the drive to execute it.