The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

This list could also be called … “10 Things I’ve Learned That I Like” or “How to be a Good Co-Worker, or at the Least Avoid Being an A-Hole.” And here we go …

10 Things I Try (and Often Fail) To Do

1 – Ask questions for information, not to prove a point.

  • It is easy to see what you’re doing, and it’s annoying.
  • Tone is key!: “Why do you think that?” – Now imagine this asked sincerely, then imagine it with a smirk and a hint of a condescending tone, and then for good measure with absolute confusion. See how different it sounds?

 

2 – If someone comes to a conclusion that is different than yours, ask about how they got there (and do so sincerely)

  • They may end up introducing you to a perspective you never would’ve considered – this is a good thing.
  • If instead you hear their conclusion and it sounds way off base and so you assume every step they took to get there was wrong … Well, that’s just crummy.

 

3 – Remember, you don’t know more than someone else about X because you are better than them …

  • You know more about X because you know more about it. If the other person wants to know more, tell them about who taught you/how you learned (not to brag, but to share).

 

4 – Intent does not equal impact. A short (short!) explanation of the purpose of your statement/question is good!

  • This list, for example, could be seen as negative. I thought these were things that I would like to write down because many of them I have to remind myself of.
  • (I’m looking at you especially #’s 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10!)
  • If you read this and think I am stating the obvious, being holier than thou, or condescending, I sincerely apologize. Instead I thought this was a good list of things that I have learned based on interacting with people who have a style of communication that I disagree with, and by making the mistakes that I say not to make.

 

5 – If you are responding to someone who has made you upset, try to do so over email.

  • Write the email, go to the bathroom (or take a walk) and then re-read the email while imagining it’s your mother reading it (unless you hate your mother).

 

6 – Never ever ever ever ever belittle someone’s input.

  • If they are off-topic, remind them (politely) that you need to get X done and you have limited time.
  • If they are completely wrong, and it’s just the two of you, figure that mess out. If they are completely wrong, and it’s a meeting, get back with them one-on-one later.

 

7 – Knowledge is power. Sharing power is GOOD.

  • If you know something that a co-worker doesn’t that you think is worth knowing, think about the best way to share it. (Hint: It is not to be surprised they don’t know this thing.)

 

8 – Don’t let someone else’s anger become your own.

  • “Bob was complaining about your work,” says Doug angrily.

It is easy to then take on Doug’s anger and also be mad at Bob for saying this thing about your work. Instead, talk to Bob directly and hope that he did not have ill intentions.

(If it turns out he did, well, Bob’s a jerk. But it won’t do you any good to also be a jerk … see #9.)

 

9 – Jerks may sit right next to your new best friend. (i.e. Your behavior always matters.)

  • See #8.
  • If you know someone is liable to tick you off, make every effort to have short conversations with questions set in your mind before hand, and communicate as infrequently as possible.
  • Sometimes this mess is unavoidable, sorry … Try box breathing.

 

10 – Answer the question you were asked, THEN explain it if the person wants to hear the explanation.

  • “Is the fix in?”

“Well there are three potential problems … (Long-winded talk including a lot of details.)”

“So … is the fix in?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

^Don’t do that.

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