I remember when I was in high school, and even into college, I hated group projects. They always seemed to go the same way. One or two members of the group did all the work, and the entire group received the same credit. Or, one or two members would fail to do their part and would bring the entire group down with them in the process.
Why would teachers do this? It just seemed cruel and unnecessary. However, as an adult, I now understand that working together with others, sometimes even in a team environment, is an actual part of life. Unlike some of the things that I might have learned, or not learned, in math classes, learning the dynamics and how to work together with people is something that you will actually use in life.
Ironically, as I write this, it is early in the morning and I am sitting at my desk, working by myself. But, the truth is that in pretty much every job on the planet you will have to deal with and work with other people. So, here are six tips for playing—or working—well with others.
Remember you were bad once too.
Sometimes the hardest thing about working with other people can be the difference in skill or experience level. For someone who has been doing a certain job or task for any length of time it can be difficult to tolerate working with someone who lacks that same level of experience. However, what we often fail to consider is that there was a time when WE were new too. There was a time when WE didn’t know what to do, or how to do it.
One way to help ensure you work well with others is to remember that you were bad once. When I first started in children’s ministry I was REALLY bad. I knew absolutely nothing about children’s ministry. But, I had a desire to serve and my pastor had asked me to lead our children’s church and I wanted to follow his direction. So, I did it . . . and it was ugly. But, I learned, and I got better. Over time, I like to think I became pretty good at it.
Remember that there was a time when you were not much better than this new team member, if at all.
Remember you have bad days, too.
In the midst of difficult days, it can be easy to become frustrated with other members of your team. Why can’t they do it right? Why are you always having to pick up their slack? Why does your leadership put up with this? The truth is that the thing that is frustrating us today, may simply be the result of a bad day for them.
Guess, what. You have bad days, too.
Do you want others to judge you, or treat you based on your worst days? Probably not. On the days that you are just a little off, you are likely counting on your teammates to not only pick up your slack, but to cut you a little slack as well. If you want to work well with others, cut them some slack on their bad days. Sadly, you may oftentimes be the only one willing to do so.
Just be nice.
This one should be a no-brainer. I mean, we all want people to be nice to us. Sadly, this is not always automatic. This is even true in ministry. But, being nice can go a LONG way. You never know what that team member is going through outside of work. You never know what sort of stressors they are dealing with. You don’t know what negative, internal dialogue they are fighting, even as you work with them.
So, just be nice.
Often in my nursing career, patients would thank me for being nice. It always seemed strange for people to thank me for being nice. Shouldn’t we all be nice? Regardless, my response is almost always the same, “It doesn’t cost any extra to be nice.”
So many people act as if being nice is going to somehow cost them something. They act as if there is something to be gained by being mean, or at least unfriendly. Truth is, being nice actually works in your favor. Being nice will often lead people to be nice back to you, even if they aren’t to other people. It’s even possible that you could end up being the only person that is nice to that teammate.
Help them grow, or they will likely go.
There is a sad tradition in nursing. We tend to “eat our young.” We are very quick to forget that we were at some point, perhaps in the distant past, a new nurse, or a student. This leads us to treat people new to our profession poorly. Ministry is not exempt from this. We can, at times, forget that we were once really bad at this too.
Personally, I’ve always felt grateful to have another team member. My thought was always that, if I could help them grow, then not only would they be more likely to stick around, but they could become a much stronger team member. If I was patient and took the time to help them grow, then not only would they become stronger, but the team would as well. There really does come a point where we can help them grow, or live with the reality the they will likely go. I’d much rather help them become a strong, productive member of the team than let them leave and be left with a hole where they once were.
Offer more than you ask.
We’ve all worked with that one annoying person that seems to be constantly asking for help. You don’t want to be that person. I’m certainly not saying that we should not help those people. I’m also not saying we shouldn’t ask for help when we need it. In fact, we should never be shy to ask for help.
This is really much more about mindset and attitude. When you arrive to work each day, your goal should be to offer more help than you ask for. Note that I did not say offer more advice, than you ask for. I did not say offer more opinions than you ask for. I said offer more HELP than you ask for. In fact, help, even when you’re not asked. Do things for your team members, even if they haven’t asked.
But, do it how THEY like it, not how you like it. That’s truly not as helpful as you might think. But, that leads to our next point.When you arrive to work each day, your goal should be to offer more help than you ask for. Click To Tweet
Remember your way is A way, not THE way.
Each of us has a unique way of doing things. In some cases your way may actually be better. However, in most cases, your way is just a DIFFERENT way of doing things. It may work better for you, but that does not mean it will work better for everyone. It certainly doesn’t mean that they are doing it wrong.
In fact, it is even possible that the way they do it is actually better. Regardless, you have to remember that your way of doing things is not necessarily better. It may simply be different. This is not to say that you can never offer some helpful advice to a teammate. It simply means that you need to be careful in how you handle it. AND, you should not try to constantly conform everyone to your way of doing things. If you look, you might even be able to learn something from them.
Bottom line . . .
A very wise person once said that we should, “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” We often refer to this as the golden rule. We teach it to little children, yet, as adults we often forget it. I think if we truly used this as a guiding principle in how we treat others at work, or anywhere else in life, then the rest of these points wouldn’t even be needed.
So, I leave you with this, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
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