Have you ever worked with someone with whom you just didn’t click?
It’s one of the most common and difficult challenges people face at
work. While it will inevitably arise, our choices matter in how we
respond — it can worsen over time and make you, them and others
miserable, or it can lead to growth and learning, improving your
ability to work with all types of people. The key difference is engaging
with emotional intelligence.
Here are 3 emotional intelligence tips to collaborate with a coworker
you don’t click with:
- 1. Make them good.
Just to clarify, it’s not possible – or your responsibility – to make your coworkers “good” in the sense of changing them. “Make them good” means
shifting your perspective away from just thinking negatively about them. There’s a phrase I came across years ago that helps me on this shift toward positivity, whenever I am frustrated by a coworker. The phrase: Everyone is doing the best they can with the awareness, knowledge and experiences that they have. It’s true even when someone’s behavior negatively impacts you – makes your life difficult, or miserable, or drives you nuts… they are doing the best they can with the awareness, knowledge and experiences that they have. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t change, of course. It also doesn’t mean you can’t communicate, or set boundaries and expectations. It just means that they are doing the best they can right now. When we accept that, and make them good, that’s the first step toward getting out of this cycle of negativity and maybe even becoming real allies.
- Suggestion: Try to shift from judgment to curiosity. Instead of statements like,
- “John is always so negative,” try asking questions like, “I wonder why John tends to respond negatively in x situations?” Be careful that your language doesn’t describe people’s faults as permanent characteristics – there’s ample
- research that people can change – even deeply embedded patterns. Even still, we often speak as if there’s absolutely no possibility of change, which itself is an impediment to change.
- 2. Bring awareness to your bias.
In this context, I am referring to your confirmation bias, the basic psychological
tendency to perceive information that confirms what we already believe to be
true. In spite of our best efforts, we’re not objective. Everyone suffers from
confirmation bias, whether we’re aware of it or not. We see and hear what we
expect / want to see and hear, based on our previous knowledge and
expectations. This is quite literally wired into our brains: we create “reality”
through a combination of our senses – what we’re perceiving now, and our
memory and previous experiences. But there are actually way more neural
connections running from memory than from perception. Of all the stimulus that comes upon our eyes, ears and noses every day, we consciously take in about 1% of it. In a world full of complexity, this is a shortcut the brain takes to work efficiently and save energy. We’re always filtering; we have to. But this can create a vicious cycle with coworkers we don’t click with, because we tend to interpret their words and actions more critically than we would others’ words and actions. We may hear them, but through a lens of past hurts and disappointments. When we bring awareness to this tendency, however, we can actively work to compensate for it and make sure we’re giving everyone a fair shot.
- Suggestion: If a coworker you struggle with says or does something that you
- interpret as a slight, or criticism, ask for clarification. There’s often a gap between what people mean to relay and how others interpret it, especially when there’s a history of animosity, and the bridge between the two is honest and open communication.
- 3. Find ways to be successful together.
I’m very conflict avoidant. Just pretend like it doesn’t exist and everything’s fine! The only problem with that strategy is there will come a time when you will have to work together, and if you haven’t built up any trust – or worse, built up mistrust – that is not an ideal starting point. It could even be on an important, high stakes project! An alternative solution? Look for ways to be successful together, then celebrate those successes and try to build off of them. Take the initiative to “win” together and build at least a little of that trust with low stakes.
Suggestion: Choose a small project to do together, or seek them out to help with
a component of something you’re working on. Then celebrate the success, express genuine gratitude, and try to cultivate the positive feelings that may have been hard to come by in your relationship so far. It’s tempting to think of emotions as something that happens to us – and in some sense, they are – but we also have the power to create emotions.
Collaborate Better with Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is being smarter with feelings. It’s bringing thoughts and
feelings together in a healthier, more productive manner. I hope you find these
tips to be a helpful way to shift the emotional dynamics in a positive direction.
All 3 of these tips fall under the Choose Yourself part of the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence.
BILLY’ COMMENTS – Nov. 10, 2021 :
Friendshipology is the study of the Art & Science in Making Friends and Building Friendship. Friendship and Friends indeed should not be taken for granted. Trust we must develop, and ideally our Love extends beyond just a small selected circle.
Michael Miller’s and Six Seconds’ efforts in trying to enlighten us all are indeed deeply appreciated. Many thanks, Michael, for allowing me to publish your article here !