Getting along with everyone at work creates a cooperative, cheerful atmosphere that can help you and your company succeed.
If you’re like most people, you tend to be comfortable and work well with people who have jobs similar to yours, but find it a bit more difficult to relate to people in other positions with whom you have little in common.
Some people you work with may have many years of professional training, and others may not have a high school diploma. Do you feel like you’re standing on a ladder looking up at some people and down at others, based on their position in the company?
Lack of trust
That perspective can lead to competition, stress, and lack of trust.
Instead, imagine all the different types of employees standing in a circle. Now you can see everyone eye to eye and appreciate the way everyone contributes to the success of the organization. In a circle, you also can see where you share things in common.
“It’s likely you share much more with others than you may think,” says Claire Raines, coauthor of The Art of Connecting: How to Overcome Differences, Build Rapport, and Communicate Effectively With Anyone. “Learning principles that can help you identify common ground, feel more comfortable with, and work better with everyone at your workplace can help you and your company succeed.”
Find the bridge
Those who connect successfully assume there’s always something they have in common with other people. They look for areas of common interests, values, ideas, and experiences instead of focusing only on the differences.
In a company, everyone has one obvious common purpose—the company’s mission. People, in general, also have a desire to be appreciated, respected, and liked by their colleagues.
Curiosity is key
On the other hand, if you want to connect, you also must be inquisitive about your differences. You can learn from people who have different backgrounds, whether they’re educational, cultural, or generational. When you’re interested in the people you work with, it promotes understanding and cooperation.
What you assume is what you get
When you approach each person expecting the best, it actually contributes to successful communication. Expecting the best is far more enjoyable than being stressed about an outcome.
Each individual is a culture
It’s important to look at each person you work with as an individual.
“Instead of categorizing people into groups, think of each person as a separate culture with his or her own personal background, educational attributes, and work experiences,” says Raines.
No strings attached
When you try to connect with people at work who differ from you, don’t expect them to return your interest or enthusiasm.
“Not everyone has the ability or the desire to connect,” says Raines. “The important thing is to do your part without becoming resentful. Be respectful, have a positive approach, and appreciate their contribution to the organization’s success.”
To put these strategies to work, Raines suggests writing each of them on a separate sticky note and posting them where you can see them every day.
Next, take some action. Do one thing every day that puts one of the principles to use. Raines predicts “you’ll soon find you’re working better with everyone, and you’re enjoying work more as you help create an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, and understanding.”
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