By Julie Fuimano, Executive Coach
In response to my recent article entitled “Emotional Buttons,” one recruiter writes: “Please help me understand how this concept works in a group setting; for example scientists working as a team to get a job done, but who do not get along with each other at all. As a recruiter I am very concerned with retention and would prefer that people do not opt to leave the unit.”
Basically, the question is: how do you get people to work together and be productive, to respect one another regardless of whether they like one another, and to communicate in a supportive and positive manner?
This is not an easy question to answer because there are so many variables to consider including people’s self esteem, their level of personal development, and their ability to communicate and handle emotions effectively as well as leadership’s behavior in not tolerating negativity/digs/gossip/complaining and their willingness to cultivate a culture of excellence that nurtures the best in people.
In this article, we will explore the difference between liking the people you work with versus doing your job. Future articles will address other aspects of creating a work environment that works.
Liking Your Coworkers is Not a Requirement
Whether you like someone or not is your own personal opinion. It’s judgment. And it is irrelevant on the job. As a leader, you look beyond your own personal opinions and act with courtesy and respect. Treating others with respect, valuing them as human beings and for the contributions they make, demonstrates the best of who you are and serves to bring out the best in others.
When did you ever like everything about another individual? Always there will be things you like and things you don’t like. Leaders focus on the good stuff. Look for, acknowledge and celebrate what is good about the people around you. People are so used to being negative or to hearing negatives about themselves that this is what they are accustomed to and expect, meaning people are constantly on guard and ready to defend themselves. Or else they have already been beaten down into submission. A respectful environment needs to be nurtured and vigilantly cultivated by not allowing the negatives and by encouraging and celebrating the positives.
If you don’t enjoy being around or working with a particular individual, think of it as an opportunity to expand yourself and your ability to communicate with grace. You learn to manage the relationship in the workplace the best you can and choose not to spend extra time with that person outside of the work environment. If the relationship is unbearable and there is no chance it will ever get better, if you have done all you can to change your approach with this person, then you may need to consider another job. Your responsibility first and foremost, is to yourself and you are responsible for managing your career as well as your level of happiness. There is no reason to remain unhappy or miserable because of a negative environment or a particular person.
Instead of focusing your attention on others, focus on what you can control: you. Do your job to the best of your ability and master your craft. This is what work is all about. In exchange for the value of the work you do, you receive a paycheck with some benefits. Whether you like the person next to you or not is not part of the package. You get paid to perform. Getting along with others in order to fulfill the mission of the organization is an important component of your job. It’s not about liking people; it’s about getting things done. You don’t have the right to impede progress by focusing on personalities. By doing so, you waste both company and human resources.
Look in the Mirror
People are mirrors for us. If there is some quality you observe in another person, ask yourself, “What does this tell me about me?” Often the very thing you see in another person requires attention for yourself. What is it about them that you have difficulty with? Is it about them and what they are doing or is it something you need to better learn how to handle? Don’t be so quick to judge; they may be able to help you learn about yourself and move beyond this limitation.
Your job in life is to be better at being you. Use these instances as opportunities to evolve yourself. Where are you being judgmental? Judgment is the good/bad, right/wrong, like/dislike. Often when people are quick to judge others it is because they are quick to judge themselves. If you learn to be more compassionate with yourself, learn to like and appreciate yourself, learn to honor and respect yourself, guaranteed you will be more compassionate and respectful with others. Start by recognizing and appreciating the good qualities in YOU. As you do, you will start to treat others with more humanity, accepting their flaws as well as their greatness.
We Are In This Together
Life doesn’t always present us with pretty lessons. Sometimes lessons are messy and come in the form of “coworkers.” But the reality is that we grow through life together. So even though your situation may seem challenging, look for ways to learn, to lead, to grow. Look for ways to applaud others. Refuse to participate in any conversation that is demeaning or destructive to another human being. To participate is to dishonor and disrespect you as much as everyone else involved. It can’t feel good to you to beat someone up verbally. There will always be things you like and other things you don’t like about the people around you and even about yourself. That’s life. Focus on the things you like and you will experience more joy. If you celebrate the best in others, they will be more likely to continue to shower the world with their best. And you will learn to appreciate that each of us is doing our best with what we have. We are all on this journey together and when our lives intersect, you can choose to make a positive impact that propels people forward by using respect and appreciation, or you can choose to tear people down. It’s your choice: What kind of impact do you wish to make?
Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is an Executive Coach with Nurturing Your Success Inc., working with people who are frustrated, stressed and unhappy and who are ready to give up being overwhelmed for the time, peace and happiness they desire. Clients report increased clarity and focus, confidence and control in situations. They say no to what they don't want -- without guilt -- and yes to what they do; they receive more respect, have more time for themselves and have more fun. Call (610) 277-2726 or write to Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com to explore how coaching would work for you or your organization. Fuimano is a popular speaker, world-renowned writer and author of The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance, the manual for personal leadership. Sign up for her e-newsletter here.
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