Staying Sane While Working With Others

By Mia Casey

Regardless of what industry you’re in, chances are you’re going to be working with others. Some of which you’ll love, and some… well, not so much. Understanding how to work with diverse personalities is a vital ability you need in advancing your career prospects, and can require a fair amount of skill. Luckily, we’ve compiled a few words of wisdom to help you through those more challenging times.

Develop you emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to ‘recognise, understand and manage’ both our own, and other people’s emotions. Recognising when you are feeling a certain way can help you monitor how you act, and maintain a professional outlook in the workplace. When it comes to group work at uni, it can also be helpful as it allows you to take stock of your emotions and remain calm in stressful situations.

Having a high level of emotional intelligence also translates to how you interact with, and understand, those around you. If you can recognise when someone at uni or work is upset or stressed about something, it gives you the insight you need to provide assistance and ensure whatever task you’re both working on can be completed successfully.

The Harvard Business Review wrote a great article about what emotional intelligence is and why it’s important, which is totally worth checking out.

Improve your communication game

Clear communication can save you so much hassle later down the line. Ensuring that the people around you can understand the point you are trying to get across, and vice versa, is important in developing your interpersonal skills. This means remaining polite, regardless of whether you’re at uni or in the workplace, and being open when others are communicating with you.

Remember, most people don’t go into a conversation wanting to misunderstand what the other person is saying. Take your time to think about what you’re trying to communicate, and the best way to do so. If it seems like the person across from you doesn’t understand, don’t get angry with them. Simply try to rephrase your point, and try again.

This goes both ways – if you don’t understand what someone is saying to you, politely telling them so shouldn’t be an issue. The consequences of leaving a conversation without any idea of what the other person wants you to do, can be much worse than asking more questions in the moment.

Don’t forget about your written communication

Clear communication and interpersonal skills don’t stop at face-to-face conversation. In this digital age, chances are that you might be talking to people more on email or Facebook than you are in person. And there’s nothing worse than receiving an email and thinking that the sender is upset with you. Or you just straight-up can’t understand what they’re trying to say. If you hate it when it happens to you, then you can be sure those you work and study with don’t like it either!

Before you message someone, make sure you put yourself in their shoes and think of how they will interpret your message. If you were having a super stressed-out day last time you saw them, and the message you’re about to send could be interpreted as harsh or cold, maybe try rephrasing. How you come across in digital communication can have a huge impact on your professional mobility both now and into the future. You don’t want to accidentally isolate someone who could make a fantastic career connection just because you rushed an email!

Pro tip: When you’re writing an email, write the body of the message first before entering the email address of whoever you’re planning on sending it to. Seriously, this can save you so much trouble later on and encourages you to reread your message before sending it!

Give and take criticism like a champ!

There’s no easier way to offend someone, than by criticising something they’ve put a lot of work into. That being said, criticism is often necessary for healthy professional growth. So, how can you give criticism without sounding mean?

Well, you want to first make sure your criticism is constructive. If you don’t like something but can’t really give any pointers as to why, maybe keep that to yourself until you can think of a way to improve the work.

You also want to try and throw in some compliments on what you like about what they’ve done. That way you don’t come across as straight-up hating on their work, and it encourages them to be more receptive to the criticism you do give.

Also, try not to be overly critical. For example, if someone at uni tells you about their ideas on your joint group assignment and you think that they’re really off-topic, maybe encourage them to think more in the right direction rather than shutting them down completely. Obviously, if what they’re doing has the potential to be extremely detrimental to your work or study you may have to be harsher, but just remember that they’re likely telling you their ideas because they are excited – so keep that momentum up, but try to funnel it in the right direction!

Finally, when people are being critical of your work, they usually aren’t doing it out of spite. Keep an open mind, and try to remember that they’re trying to help you succeed.

Whatever you do, don’t burn bridges

There are going to be some people in your life that you simply don’t get along with. That’s fine, as long as you don’t let your dislike get in the way of your career! Even if you’re leaving a job, don’t use your leaving as an opportunity to hash it out with whoever it is you have trouble with. You never know when they may come back into your life!

Recently, a friend of mine was working at one organisation and then moved on to a more senior position at a similar organisation. His boss at his first job was difficult to work with, but luckily he kept that to himself because she now works alongside him at his new job. Imagine how awkward that could have been!

Try to stay patient, be mindful of how you’re communicating with them, and utilise your emotional intelligence to see beyond whatever dislike you may have, to uncover how they might be feeling. Taking the time to try and understand another person’s motivations can be really helpful in overcoming your personal feelings to work together successfully!

Working with other people can be tough. Remaining level headed, polite and understanding can be more difficult in times of stress, but that’s usually when it’s most important. Try to keep in mind that people generally want to be liked, so if they come across as insensitive they likely don’t know they’re doing it. Take a deep breath, put yourself in their shoes, and focus on what you’re saying and you’ll be fine.

Increase your interpersonal skills, and try out some of these techniques today!

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.

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Author: Mia Casey

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