There’s no workplace, where all persons behave the same way. As you get to know every employee, be it in your unit or across other departments, you’d find out the differences in culture and orientation. There’s a plethora of characters you will meet, ranging from the quick-to-anger, gossipy, pessimistic, yes-man, cheerful, appreciative to the optimistic, gracious, belligerent, mendacious and overly political. Managing each character comes with a great deal of experience in managing people. People skills is a vital skill to have at the office, be it a big or small one. Having people skills deals with understanding the perspective of every individual you come across, and understanding why they do stuff in a certain way. For example, you have a supervisor, who wants to know everything that goes on in the unit, these could be in terms of budget, imprest expenditure, purchasing of the minutest of office materials such as A4 papers and Tippex(for those, whose files are still manually stored) and so on. From the way he takes accountability seriously, you ought to communicate with him, possibly orally or through accounting information. You do this to please him, because you may not want to cause problems and possibly incur his (avoidable) wrath. So, to go further, here’s a handful of ways to roll with your colleagues at work:
- Be optimistic: Do not be a naysayer. Always find possibilities rather than negate every opinion that is laid on the table. Chances are that your colleagues may soon start avoiding you, when opinions are sought during brainstorming sessions, project evaluations and department meetings.
- Be peaceful: Always try to be at peace with every employee. This is not easy on paper, but, your outlook must ooze peace. Be the mediator during conflicts, you could end up winning hearts from both sides of the divide. A peaceful person attracts a lot of admiration.
- Do not be opinionated: This usually happens, when you are the leader of the pack; maybe as a project leader, unit head or coordinator. The ego may get in your way sometimes, but you must be rational. You need to know when to enforce your opinions and when to allow others have theirs. You may not always be right. There is someone within, who has a sharper idea. Swallow your pride and evaluate his ideas. It’s all about the team.
- Do not Gossip,Do not bother people with your personal life: Personal stuff bore the hell out of other people. Once in a while you may discuss how good the sex was, how your kids perform in school, what’s going on in your marriage, but do not make it a regular stuff. If this is excessive, boredom sets in on the side of your colleagues. You must be able to read body languages.
- Do not be rebellious: We always love to communicate what’s on our minds. Some people always look forward to reporting issues to the top management, at the slightest chance. Some employees feel the urge to be outlaws – not conforming to dress codes, time, policies and regulations. Be sure not to fall into this category – your opportunities to grow may be stifled.
- Be friendly: This involves understanding the emotional needs of your colleagues. Do not be cold and too formal. There must be a little time to unwind, there must be a little time to play around. Board games, video games and gisting are great ways to start. Always care about what is going on in the lives of your colleagues. Stuff like: “your hair looks nice, who made it?” kickstarts a good conversation, and a host of other icebreakers.
- Do not be rude: Treat everybody with respect, no matter what level you are. Respect is a reciprocal, they say. Do not bully people verbally, but be respectful in the way you communicate.
- Conflict is normal: We have dwelt on things to avoid, but conflict is what you must not avoid. Do not show cowardice (especially when dealing with your colleagues). Agreement is not a token, there will be disagreements, yelling, name calling, accusations and what have you, but all these serve to clear the air. For example, Maria has been constantly bothered by Abdul, with tasks that do not fall within her role in the unit. Should Maria keep quiet and die in silence? No? One day she would go beserk, and go into a shouting spree with Abdul, lamenting on how she’s being given jobs that are not her’s. By doing so, she clears the air, and shows signs to him, that she’s no pushover. Abdul wouldn’t dare to try that again in the future.
- Above all, be confident. Ooze confidence. Let everyone know that you are worth your salt. Let your light of wisdom and knowledge shine always. This is what will draw you respect and admiration within the company.