Getting Along in the Workplace: What Do You Flex – Mind or Muscle?

Getting along in the workplace: What Do You Flex – Mind or Muscle

This article addresses two key components of getting along in the workplace.

The amount of time we spend in the workplace is significant. As such, how do we optimize our opportunities to make a difference – in the midst of diverse opinions, stupid rules, toxic bosses, difficult colleagues or employees, and the like - while retaining our sense of self?

Getting along in the workplace: Flexing our muscles

It occurred to me that we bring many of our workplace issues on ourselves by taking the decision to flex our muscles.We commit ourselves firmly to our ideas and our perceptions without really considering others’ points of view. We are prone to telling ourselves that our idea is the best option, and that “work would be wonderful if only I didn’t have to deal with so many people to get something done”. How many times do we fail to delegate to others because it’s just easier to do it ourselves? After all, no one will do the job as well as we will.

Do we allow ourselves to become so committed to an idea or way to approach a problem that we flex our muscles in an attempt to have our way? We all know the drill – dependent upon our position in the hierarchy, we may get our way but not without facing future consequences. Flexing our muscles may be a very efficient way to get things done; however, it is not the best way to build our leadership skills, and to gain the respect of our colleagues. We win the battle but lose the war!

Getting along in the workplace: Flexing our mind

Just like we make a habit of exercising our bodies routinely to build our muscle mass, we can create an exercise regimen for our mind that includes active listening, open-mindedness and a genuine curiosity to know and understand others’ perspectives. Imagine this simple exercise – you and a colleague are placed back-to-back in a room, and asked to describe what you see. Will your descriptions be the same? Of course not! Your colleague will see the beautifully framed company mission statement hanging on the wall while you may see the sign to the restrooms. One serves as inspiration while the other points to an essential detail. Both are necessary.

Getting along in the workplace: Final thoughts

Flexing our mind is not an efficient process; we must allow time to listen and to comprehend other’s points of view. When we remain steadfast that our solution is best, the only things we are flexing are our muscles. If we commit ourselves to true collaboration, we are willing to sacrifice some time to really listen and to understand other’s perspectives. This is challenging because we have been trained to listen only to reply. Imagine being curious enough to hear someone out all the way through only to learn that one of their points makes perfect sense – even from your perspective. That important detail had passed you by.

The perfect position would be to stand to the side of those two people who are back to back. Your view would be altogether different as well, except that you will be able to see both of their points of view. You will nurture and develop an objectivity that is needed in the workplace, all the while flexing your mind, developing your listening skills, promoting collaboration, and making your time in the workplace productive and enjoyable.

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