Master Their Rules Of Engagement To Get On Well With Colleagues

Part of a creating a copacetic work environment is learning to work well with colleagues. The real secret, according to BusinessWeek, is to ditch your expectations and accept that some people live by a very different set of rules.

Photo by Manuel Van De Weijer.

Author Peter Bregman writes that the answer to frustration with colleagues is to understand that most won’t change their day-to-day behaviours, and that—even if those behaviours differ from what you would do in that situation—that doesn’t mean they’re always wrong.

So instead of getting frustrated with other people, learn their rules of engagement. If you pretend each person is from a foreign country you don’t fully understand, you’ll be more open to accepting him or her.

Think of every interaction as an experiment that explains a little bit more about the individual you’re dealing with. Then, when someone defies your expectations, don’t get mad. Just change your expectations to more accurately align with reality. Once you understand your colleagues’ operating instructions, you might decide to approach them differently. Use different words. Be more or less aggressive.

Given the diversity of some work environments, some colleagues may be from different cultures, while others may simply seem like they’re from Mars. Either way, Bregman says that by treating them the way they want (stepping into someone else’s shoes, if you will), you’ll better understand how your colleagues operate and lessen your own frustration in the process. That doesn’t mean that you’ll always be happy with what you learn. As Bregman points out, if you really don’t mesh with your coworkers even after adjusting your expectations, you may just need to find another workplace at some point.

A Secret for Contending with Colleagues [BusinessWeek]

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