Working in an office is often a fascinating sociological study. It’s an environment where a wide variety of different personality types are obligated to work together towards a common goal. In some instances, these might be individuals who would never choose to work together in any other circumstance, but have to find ways to settle their differences for the greater interests of the organization.
Recent college grads who join the workforce at entry-level positions will quickly discover that working in an office environment requires a lot of strategic thought and compromise, especially if you want to be satisfied and successful in your career. To help prepare for office life, we believe it’s best to get your first real-world office experience at a part-time job or internship before you graduate. Here are a few useful tips from Education at Work that will help you boost your reputation among future colleagues and enhance your overall workplace experience.
- Don’t pass judgment: It can be easy to make a quick decision about someone after meeting him or her for the first time, but try to have an open mind and avoid letting bad first impressions have the final say. In work situations, you might have to work on group projects or in close quarters with colleagues who are very different from you. If you let your biases stand in the way, it can make it more difficult to collaborate and get things done. Take the time to get to know a colleague and how they work before writing them off. Even if your personalities don’t mesh, making efforts to learn a colleague’s working style can help you determine the best ways to accomplish tasks together – how to strategize, how to divvy up assignments, set goals, etc.
- Keep it professional: Even if a colleague is acting in a less than professional manner, you should always keep calm and collected. If a co-worker is being volatile, it won’t help the situation if you get angry too. Plus, maintaining a calm demeanor in all situations will only boost your reputation in the workplace. For example, if you can prove to your boss that you get along with anyone, your credibility will increase and you might be called upon to work on more projects because of your easygoing nature and ability to keep cool under pressure.
- Work it out: If a situation disintegrates to the point where it’s seemingly impossible to work together successfully with a co-worker, it’s time to be brave and confront him or her – in a polite, non-combative manner. Attempting to come to a compromise is better for everyone, especially if you can handle it privately without making a major scene at the office. If need be, use another colleague as an impartial mediator. Or, if the situation worsens overtime, consider talking to your boss about it.
- Communicate: In many workplace situations, a lack of clear communication between colleagues is often the cause of disputes and misunderstandings. Even though email is accepted as a standard form of professional communication, sometimes messages will be read out of context or taken the wrong way. Thus, if an issue arises, it’s usually better to clear things up with a colleague by having a good old face-to-face conversation to make sure you’re on the same page.
Don’t let difficult relationships color your judgment when it comes to doing quality work with your fellow co-workers and superiors. You can have thriving professional relationships at work if you learn how to appreciate the skills and quirks co-workers bring to the table. We believe that the customer service jobs we offer to our student-employees will help teach, at an early career stage, critical workplace skills, such as communication and getting along with colleagues on a professional level. Check back to our blog for future updates and free career advice.