Five tips for thriving in a difficult team

You can’t be liked by everyone and if you try too hard you won’t be liked by anyone. But you don’t have to like who you work with, you just have to get the job done and hopefully get along with your colleagues while doing it.

Here are five tips to make it easier:

1. Set limits on bad behaviour

Colleagues get away with what you let them get away with. Setting limits on bad behaviour won’t win you friends, at first. But eventually, the behaviour will change. Be firm, not rude, when setting limits and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. It is important to be clear from the beginning, as it’s difficult to negotiate an unclear workplace dynamic.

2. Could it be you? Own up

Do you get defensive in the work place? Do you take things to heart? Do you avoid confrontation, take other people’s credit or break your own rules?

Make a list of what gets under your collar about others in the workplace and note if you do the same things too. If you do, then it is time to make an effort to recognize the behaviour and curb it.

If you don’t, then why does it upset you? Is it because you are not being recognised? Do you feel passed by or do you simply just want to get your work done?

We take our own family history into the workplace and many of us act out. Reality and perception don’t always match.

3. Avoid gossip

The water cooler breeds all sorts of negativity and factions in a work place. Enter at your own risk.

While listening to gossip can give you an inside track to what is happening in your office, sharing gossip will just instill distrust of you by your colleagues.

4. Have compassion and empathy

Life isn’t always easy and we all have our own disappointments and highs to contend with. Exercising empathy and compassion for other’s situations can go a long way in defusing a contentious atmosphere. Perhaps your colleagues are upset that you got the job they wanted, maybe they are jealous of your work progress, perhaps there is something outside of the workplace that is causing them distress. You don’t have to take on their problems but understanding where it came from will help you not bite back.

5. Get some face to face time

Email has a lot to answer for. Sure, an e-paper trail of communication can be useful when analysing who did what and when, but face to face time is just as important.

If you are having real trouble with a work colleague take them out for coffee in a neutral location and discuss it. This may be enough to make the change from combat to collaboration.

And a bonus tip, Say thank you and have fun

Thank you is an underused phrase in a world where so many are manage up. Credit, praise and thanks can go a long way, especially when acknowledging those who have helped you get where you are to those above you.

This article first appeared on Women’s Agenda.

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