Co-Workers; How You Make It Work


Whether you work at a small, medium or large-scale business, there’s likely going to be some co-worker(s) that you prefer working with over others. If we’re honest, we might even go so far as to say there are some that are positively annoying; possibly some that are…well…just the kind that subtract rather than add to your day.

It’s kind of interesting when you compare how people go about dating and finding that one perfect partner in life vs. how we end up working with one person 35, 40 or more hours in close proximity with. I mean when it comes to dating, we might go about it differently, but typically we’re drawn to someone, feel excited when they are around, take great pains to look and act in ways we hope they’ll find desirable. We look forward with anticipation to seeing them and our imaginations play out how our time together might go. We don’t in short just choose anybody; we see them, we learn about them and share with them who we are, what makes us the person we are and we make all kinds of compromises putting their needs ahead of our own because we really do want their happiness as much as our own.

Our work colleagues on the other hand; the ones we will spend years with day in, day out? It’s not us at all that does the match-making. The Manager doing the hiring decides. As much as they are looking for skills, experience, personality, attitude, education etc., they are also thinking about the chemistry that will occur if you’re added to the team. They know the personalities currently in the workplace; they muse over where they’ll sit you or who they’ll shuffle around in order to get you working next to whoever they are thinking of.

Can you imagine just for a moment being hired and then told you were going to meet various employees over the course of the coming week and at the end of that week you were to tell the employer who you’d prefer to share your work area with? Of course it would go both ways; everyone you meet will be sizing you up too and deciding whether you’ll be a good work partner for them.

Sounds odd doesn’t it? Or what if the employer said you work next to someone for a year and at the end of the year everybody in the organization moves and works next to someone else. Imagine if that happened in our personal lives; we changed partners at the end of December every year. Yeah if that was a great idea it would have caught on with broad appeal by now and it hasn’t. Stop thinking this would solve your current situation!

Being honest with yourself – and no one can hear your private thoughts – there’s bound to be some people where you work that you are naturally more drawn to than others. Even if you are the kind of person who gets along with everybody and tries your best to see everyone equally, I’m betting that given a choice, you’d work best with some folks and maybe go so far as to replace a few with others. If not, good for you, you’re working with your personal dream team!

Do you like sitting next to the employee who has 39 small stuffed animals in their cubicle? Do you sit next to the heavy breather, the person who sneezes and buildings across the street shake with the noise? What about the person who makes more personal calls than work calls? Or maybe it’s you with the stuffed animals and you think the person next to you should lighten up a little and be less stuffy themselves? There’s irony for you!

Do you care who you work alongside at all or are people interchangeable and your own work performance isn’t impacted one way or the other? I believe we are affected by those we work closest to and we of course have an impact on how they work too.

I’ve now worked for 9 years sharing an office with the same person. We know each others’ styles, respect each others space, give each other the courtesy of privacy or at least ask if they wish privacy from time to time. Some days I spend more hours together with my colleague than I do with my wife. Now sure at any time I suppose either one of us could go in and say to our boss that we wanted a shift in scenery if possible. I’ve heard co-workers in the past say they absolutely could not work with a person they were assigned to and stopped just short of demanding a move; then were delighted to change their location as soon as they could. Not always possible however to do so.

The thing is we have to get along and that means making the effort to be someone others can get along with too. This is how good partnerships and relationships go; thinking about others needs in addition to our own. It’s up to you and them to put in enough effort to make things work for both of you. Problems generally arise when someone is making an effort and someone isn’t; not caring to invest in the relationship.

Then again, if you choose not to invest in work relationships, you could consider a home-based business!

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