There are plenty of ways to annoy our colleagues at work. But there are seven negative behaviours that will fast track this frustration and seven lessons we can learn.
1. Vague and unreliable
People who forget what’s important, have mixed priorities and are generally not committed are quickly labelled unreliable. Worse, what they are doing is selfish and affects everyone else, even if they believe their mixed priorities are “assisting” in some way.
Lesson 1: Follow through – commit and deliver what you promise
2. Not saying what you think or feel
This one can be tough especially in workplaces that praise spin over truthfulness. But you’ve got to live with yourself at the end of the day, and sometimes a refusal or fear of speaking up can lead to massive consequences. You don’t have to wade in with a shovel, but if something strikes you as wrong or unethical, say so – politely, clearly, with careful timing and evidence.
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Lesson 2: Be honest – and not afraid to confront
Some people are stuck in their habits and closed to new experiences. They may prejudge something as having no value, assuming they know it all. Maybe you’ve “been there, done that, know that”. So? Does this really make you better at what you do? Experience is wonderful, but stay fresh, eager and open to life’s possibilities. Curiosity and fascination with the (as yet) unknown are key to your survival, in your work life and beyond. Don’t lose that quality.
Lesson 3: Be curious and open to learning – ask questions and learn new ways
4. Low self-esteem
Don’t devalue yourself. You might believe your self-esteem has withstood some cruel blows, especially from thoughtless superiors or twists of fate. To an extent, how you come across is mirrored by others’ attitudes to you (though not entirely, which is why “sharing” your every thought and self-validating moments online is seldom a good idea). Cast off that inner disappointment in yourself and give your morale some core strength once more. There’s plenty that you have to offer.
Lesson 4: Respect yourself – remember your strengths and be bold
5. Disregard, no respect
Respect is unfortunately one of the most utilised yet misunderstood terms in the English language. It can only be earned, not commanded. That said, we can all improve our ability to pay regard to what others are saying – particularly if we make the effort to listen to them, whether or not we like or agree with their mode of expression. There’s much to be learned from others, in myriad subtle ways. Life’s clues are not always up there in big electric bulbs. Demonstrate that you care enough to pay attention to what’s being said and done.
Lesson 5: Care for others – show respect, listen and appreciate
6. Stuck in a past emotion
Clinging to the past, reliving negatives, and holding anger and rage is unhealthy. Everyone does this, to a greater or lesser degree. Being told to “let it go” does not mean airbrushing aspects of your past out of existence. For better or worse, they are part of your life’s journey. But you can work on releasing emotions that in effect prevent you from enjoying and experiencing your present and future prospects. You’ll find that if you “don’t make a memorandum of it” (as the Red Queen says in Alice in Wonderland), things acquire their rightful perspective.
Lesson 6: Rise above – let the negativity go, move forward
7. Oblivious to your own impact
Some of us are closed to our own baggage. We all need to periodically take a look at ourselves, in times of success as well as the low periods. Success has its own form of insensitivity to others; it’s just that people conceal their reactions better. Monitor your daily behaviours and interactions and see what triggers delight or caution in others. Remember that we are all just a few steps from trouble and disillusionment – often through no apparent fault of our own, no matter how well you are doing financially or how many “followers” you have.
Lesson 7: Look inwards – recognise how you come across to others
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.