When you join a new office, you’ll run into people whose styles of working and communicating are very different from yours. You’ll be more likely to win them over if you learn how to speak their language. Here’s how.
Don’t take it personally. If you do, you’ll likely become defensive. Know that when a co-worker shoots down your idea, the problem might be that you haven’t communicated it in a way that resonates with her—not that the idea isn’t strong. For example, if she’s all about numbers, present your suggestion again, this time with more data to back it up.
Go out for coffee. If there’s a colleague you seem to clash with, find an opportunity to chat. Try to get her talking about her life outside the office. Make a note of her interests and the words she uses to describe them. This can give you a glimpse into her fears and motivations—and you can keep that in mind the next time you’re working on a project together, and refer to those activities when appropriate.
Pay attention to her behavior. If she offers to lend a hand a lot, maybe helping others makes her feel validated. Be sure to tell her you appreciate her feedback when she points out something useful. If she is a list-maker and has an impeccably neat desk, organization and planning are probably important to her. Make sure proposals you’re working on together include detailed, step-by-step outlines and clearly defined goals.
Step outside your bubble. If you’re convinced that her approach is wrong and she’s just being obstinate, keep in mind that your way isn’t the only way, and that both perspectives may be equally valid. Try to find some common ground.
Just ask! If you’re not sure how she prefers to work or interact, why not ask her? Does she prefer communicating by phone, in person, or email? Defer to her preferences, not yours. You will win more brownie points if you do.
Make work the priority. If you find yourself being drawn into a disagreement, remember that you both have the same goal—you want your project to succeed. Refocus on the task at hand and your co-worker will likely do the same.
Grow your relationships. Because you’re working towards the same raises and promotions, it can be easy to focus on your co-workers as competitors, and they are. But if you treat people mainly as a threat to your growth, they will avoid you. To be successful in business, you’ll need to nurture these relationships. A colleague could get a promotion and if you get along, he may suggest your name when a job opens up.
Hone your listening skills.
Show your co-workers you’re genuinely interested in their thoughts. That will make them feel more open to sharing ideas with you.
While some colleagues might join you in gossiping about another co-worker, they’ll be less likely to approach you for input if they think you might spread rumors about them.
Avoid isolating yourself.
When you’ve got a long to-do list, it can be tempting to close your office door and bury yourself in your work. But it’s important to be social, even for a few minutes. Take a break. Small talk might seem trivial, but it can help you create a bond with people.