One consistent challenge we all encounter in the workplace is learning how to work with people whose personalities are different from ours. We tend to invest lots of time in understanding the communication needs and preferences of our customers and clients so that we can best serve them, but rarely do we devote the same time and effort to our communications with our coworkers.
Instead of asking our coworkers directly how they prefer to communicate, we tend to rely on trial and error communication, using their subtle cues to determine the best ways to work with and relate to them. This coded communication method can be stressful, as it requires constantly managing and resolving misunderstandings and conflicts, and as a result, it also slows us down.
But we don’t have to work with each other this way. With a little bit of time and a lot of intentionality, we can understand others’ communication styles and preferences before misunderstandings and conflicts arise. By openly talking about how we prefer to work, we can give others the recipe for how to best work with us, and we can ask what their recipes are, too.
Opening a dialogue in which we exchange our personal work styles and preferences with our coworkers has secondary benefits too; not only does this allow us to be better prepared to work with each other, it’s also a great way to develop personal relationships and earn colleagues’ trust.
Some insightful questions to ask each other include:
- How would you describe your communication style?
- What do you need from me so that you can do your best work?
- When you have received helpful feedback in the past, how was it delivered?
- What type of recognition is most meaningful to you?
We can all benefit from understanding more about the people we work with, whether we’re team members, direct reports, or managers. These conversations can allow us to bypass potential office strife, which is not only better for one-on-one relationships, but is also better for general office morale and productivity.
Watch Episode 09 of Transform Your Workplace