I was clocking out for my hour of escape, when I heard one of my coworkers behind me.
“Hey Joan, what are you doing for lunch today?”
I flapped my time card around in my hands.
“Oh ah – I’m not sure; just going to head out and see what sounds good, I guess.”
I didn’t want him to know I packed my lunch every day and ate it in my car. How lame.
“Cool! Want to go together?”
My brain struggled.
Hang out together? Like, outside the building?
My parking-lot-time was my solace. It was a brief, treasured time of peace, at the halfway-point in my day. Didn’t everyone want that? Did people at work really spend that precious time… together?
“Um, sure, sounds great!” I heard myself answering.
I followed him out the door and struggled to pay attention to his chatter while I looked at my silent car in the parking lot.
Hopefully this won’t become a regular thing.
I didn’t always know how much better my coworkers could make my workday. For years and years, coworkers were just an extension of that place I wouldn’t choose to be at.
None of us knew each other in regular life. We just happened to be thrown together when our boss was picking bodies to fill the building. Wouldn’t spending time together outside of it just remind us of work?
And I was really shy. It was already uncomfortable enough having to make conversation with so many people who probably knew they could do my job better. Why purposely put myself in more awkward situations?
No way. I kept my head down, I kept small-talk to an only-as-solicited basis, and I took every opportunity for solitude that I could possibly find.
I did that for years, and you do not want to follow my awful example.
Because I had no idea how much my coworkers had to offer me.
I had no idea how much they could help me to grow and develop. I had no idea how much their experience, skills, and connections could help me to move forward on my personal goals.
I had no idea they could give me the support, and encouragement, and warmth that was otherwise missing from so many of the places I worked.
I had no idea that no matter how great management seemed, and no matter how much praise and incentives were rained down from above, my coworkers could add to all of it – even surpass all of it.
I had no idea my coworkers could end up feeling like friends.
So let’s help you to make the right choice when it comes to the people at work, and it’s Step 6 for using your job:
Work well with your coworkers.
We could go on and on about how to do this; it’s a gigantic topic. So I’ll be talking about it in multiple posts and videos. But start with a solid foundation.
There are six things you’ll need to be for your coworkers, and you’ll be these for them every time you’re at work:
Yep, there’s your start.
Be these things, and everyone will work better. You’ll work better. You’ll enjoy your work more; you’ll feel more fulfilled by it.
Be these things, and everyone will love working with you.
And I’m willing to bet, that it’ll even make you love working with everyone else – no matter how you feel about some of them.
I explained each of these six qualities in detail in this video, so you can click the link if you’d like to learn more about being these at work, and why every one of them requires a certain amount of balance (like everything else in life).
What I will say now though, is that you aren’t going to be in the mood to be these things every day.
Some days you’ll be exhausted. Some days you’ll come in after getting some bad news at home. Some days you’ll come in after every single thing hit the fan, and some days you’ll just be over it all.
And the thought of interacting with anyone will make you want to burn through the day behind a barricade.
That’s just how it is. You won’t always care, but make your coworkers feel cared for anyway.
And it’s so funny how this works, but so much of the time, after going through the motions, you'll realize that you’re actually feeling it.
You’ll be in the elevator with someone, you’ll force yourself to ask how things are going, and he’ll tell you about a rough time at home. And you’ll realize midway through his story, that you’re feeling sympathetic.
You’ll be trying to hide out at lunch, someone will come sit with you, you’ll suppress a sigh and start chatting with her, and at some point during the conversation, you’ll realize your smile is real.
I know it’s this way because it’s happened for me on so many workdays when I’d started the day wanting to hang a Public Service Announcement around my neck: “I CAN’T TODAY”.
Your relationships with your coworkers can be the best thing about your job. Your relationships with them can open doors you don’t even know exist yet.
And if you give, and give, and give these things, and no one returns the favor or shows any appreciation: well, you’re getting the very best practice of all for the skills and traits you need for reaching your goals, so you can say a silent thanks to everyone.
Work well with your coworkers. This stuff comes back to you!