5 ways to become an indispensable co-worker

Heed this advice to become a dream to work with, rather than a thorn in colleagues’ sides.

How to be easy to work with

We all want smart, competent and committed people on our teams.

But most of all, we want people who are easy to work with. Those who take everything personally, get defensive when receiving even the slightest amount of feedback and accuse first and ask questions later, are difficult to work with. These behaviors are exhausting.

Working in our current environment is hard enough. Who needs the extra aggravation of dealing with difficult colleagues?

Here are five ways to be an indispensable co-worker who uplifts those around you – while boosting your own career prospects:

1. Don’t take things personally.

Human beings are wired for survival. Most people are so worried about themselves – looking good and doing well – they’re not all that worried about you.

When you get overlooked for a project or a meeting, rather than feeling slighted, feel free to ask what happened or why you weren’t included. Then let it go.

Or, just be grateful you have one fewer meeting to attend.

2. Give other people the benefit of the doubt.

Most people are genuinely trying to do the right thing. If you question someone’s motives or actions, ask a question before making a decision about that person.

I like the question, “Help me understand…?”

It’s neutral and invites the other person to speak. If you choose to ask this question, watch your tone of voice. If you can safely add the words “you dummy” to a question, you probably have a tone issue.

Regardless, don’t always assume the worst about people. Give them grace and understanding, just as you would like to be treated.

3. Don’t hold a grudge.

When an event is over, it’s over. Set expectations for how you want people to interact next time, then let your anger go. Let people recover from mistakes and miscommunication.

Letting bitterness build will only harm you and the business.

4. Temper your emotions at work.

Human beings are allowed to have feelings.

However, sometimes our feelings can deeply affect others. When managers and co-workers yell, cry or give the silent treatment, it can be an upsetting experience.

So, whenever possible, wait to have conversations until you’re calm and collected. And if you can’t manage your emotions during a conversation, excuse yourself until you can.

5. Be introspective and self-aware.

The better you know yourself, the more effectively you can work with others in the manner they like to work.

Periodically ask people you trust for feedback on the impression you make and what you’re like to work with. Listen to their feedback, and adjust your communication habits to be easier to work with.

The bottom line: Positive work performance isn’t just about producing results. It’s also how we get those results. Are we easy to work with, or do we make work harder than it has to be? I want to be someone (and want to work with people) who make work easier, not harder.

Shari Harley is the founder and president of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace. Read more on the Candid Culture blog.


One Response to “5 ways to become an indispensable co-worker”

    Dawn Balzano says:

    Very important and beautiful article important for life and work. Thank you for the lovely and helpful reminder.

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