During your care-free college years, it can be hard to understand how tough it is to be the best employee in an organisation. In the workplace, you have to not only work hard, but also know how to get along well with your peers, so that they become your support in difficult times. It’s not always easy to form good working relationships with your peers, and it can require a great deal of time and effort.
Sometimes it’s difficult to get your voice heard above those of your team mates. Even if you are working hard towards accomplishing the desired goals, you can feel sidelined and unappreciated at times. You start to wonder what makes people so disrespectful, so that they never hear or notice what you say or ask them to do.
Before you confront your colleagues, however, step back and take a deep breath. Think about what might be affecting the rest of your team. People may have heard what you want them to do, but have not quite mastered the art of doing it yet. People who are already are struggling to do their job, or take control of their time may well be less inclined to pay you the right amount of attention when you try to make conversation or ask for their help.
Here are five steps to help you develop resilience and patience while working with others.
Recognise and Validate Your Feelings
Before you get into the workplace, take time to understand how you feel and what is going inside yourself. People take control of their emotional states in different ways. Some disconnect with their physical location and go deep inside themselves to examine their mental state. Others use physical; exercise to sort out their thoughts. Many discover what is going in their minds by writing their feelings down on a piece of paper.
Whatever method you choose, use it to figure out the answers to the following important questions:
– Is my interpretation of the situation correct, is the other person unable to help me, or has he simply forgotten what I asked him to do?
– What is my emotional response to the situation? For instance, is it guilt, resignation or anger? Is it justified?
– Whom should I blame? Should I blame myself for not communicating things perfectly? Or should I blame the other person for not following what I asked?
– What is the wisest step to take next? For example, should I set up a one-to-one meeting, or sort it out through a wider group involvement?
We can feel anything we like but we do not always have the right to judge. Judgment is often a terrible move to make, especially when you do not understand the total picture. So address your emotions carefully without denying them, otherwise they will accumulate and prevent you from finding possible solutions. A good idea to help you avoid judging a person or situation too impulsively is to disengage yourself from your emotions as much as you can and handle the situation from a distance.
Start by assuming that there was a good reason for the colleague/team member not to undertake the task or listen to you properly. Then focus on discovering the best ways to find out what those reasons are, and how you can help put things right.
Before you start complaining about your colleague or suggesting solutions, speak to the person and allow him time to explain. Your opening question could be, ‘’I have noticed that you have not replied to my emails. Can you please explain what is happening?’’
The answer might surprise you. For example, long hours might have kept the employee so busy that he had to work until 10pm. Your 5pm reminder email was therefore no longer visible to him. Or it might have moved into his spam folder and been overlooked.
Now explain your side and say how the error made you feel, for example, “Since you did not reply to my emails, I thought you did not respect what I said. Now let’s look at the solutions together.’’
Work Together on a Solution
Brainstorming is a good idea to find out the solutions. For example:
Manager: “It seems that you sometimes forget to check your e-mail at the end of the day. Then you don’t see the relevant reminders, is that correct?”
Ask the person how they might be reminded to check next time. They might suggest updating an email calendar or having a pad of post-it notes on their desk. If the team member then suggests having the reminder on his phone, then this should be a reasonable solution for both of you.
Define a Follow-Up
Once the solution has been decided, define in writing how you will follow up on it and what consequences there will be if the plan does not work.
By working together on communication problems like these, you can keep everyone’s spirits high and stay calm. Listen to each other to find the solutions. You cannot control what people do, but you can certainly control your own emotional response.