2563-mood-diceHaving good relationships with your colleagues helps you get things done on your projects. It can turn an uphill battle lasting days into a couple of hours where everything happens smoothly. This post is about some simple ideas to help you get along with everybody without using all of your time chatting.

This article at Embrace Possibility explains one simple rule that you can quickly remember during every interaction you have:

Make them feel significant

This is great because it’s so simple and easy to remember. If you’re in a meeting or just ran into someone in the kitchen, remember your aim for the interaction is to make them feel significant and then ask them a question about what they’re working on or something they’re interested in.

The emotional bank account

I learned of the concept of an emotional bank account from 7 habits of highly successful people. The idea is that you invest in your relationship with each person by making deposits in your emotional bank account via positive interactions.

When there’s a negative interaction or you don’t meet expectations on something, that’s a withdrawal. If the balance gets too low, your relationship with that person is strained and it’s harder to get work done.

When you run into someone in the kitchen and you talk and have an interaction, if you can make them feel significant, you’ve made a large deposit in the emotional bank account in just a couple of minutes.

This brings me to the next point.

Small talk

Now you might be thinking engaging in chattiness all day is going to take up a lot of your time and make you less productive. However you don’t need to chat constantly to maintain your relationships with work colleagues.

Generally the closer your relationship is with someone, the more time you need to maintain it.

As long as colleagues know you’re focussed on the work and want to get the best outcome for all your stakeholders while they can see you’re polite and you’re making them feel significant; you won’t need that much time to maintain the positive balance in your emotional bank account. Just a few minutes of small talk once a day or every couple of days might be enough.

Pick the right time and place

Picking the right time and place for small talk will also lead to increased productivity. For example if you’re using the Pomodoro technique and just finished a third Pomodoro on an important task, you may take a 15min break.

Use this time to get some tea from the kitchen and you’ll probably see someone else there. Say hi and make them feel significant in the interaction.

That’s a productive way to become universally liked while maintaining your focus on achieving your goals. You’ve had a positive interaction, not taken much time, and not interrupted your own work or someone else’s work by distracting them while they’re concentrating on something.

What topics to talk about?

It doesn’t matter too much. It’s not the topics that you talk about that are important. It’s having the interaction. Just keep in mind you want to make them feel significant and ask about something they’re working on or are interested in.

There’s one exception to this…

Steer well clear of gossip

Gossip will drag on, eat away your time, and create a bad reputation for yourself. You’ll automatically have withdrawals from your emotional bank accounts with others who see you engaged in gossip. Even the person who started the gossip is going to lose trust in you – if you’re talking about someone behind their back, then you’ll do the same with other people about the person talking to you.

This will lead to more time needed on small talk with more people and still not have as good an outcome as if you had kept everything positive and built a reputation on being focussed and polite.

If someone tries to engage in gossip with you, move on from the conversation as politely and quickly as possible. If they persist, excuse yourself by saying you need to get back to finishing a certain task where another team is waiting for your output.

Reflect on your interactions

The main tool to remember from this post to have quality interactions that will help you get along with everybody is when you have an interaction, make them feel significant.

When you’re first trying to put this idea into practice, reflect on how the day’s interactions went. Ask yourself: did you make others feel significant today? What could you have done better? How will you remember to do that next time?

In summary, to get along with everyone, be universally liked and still focussed and productive

  • Make them feel significant in every interaction
  • Deposit in the emotional bank account
  • Engage in small talk at the right time and place
  • Build a reputation of being focussed and polite
  • Reflect on how your interactions are going

What strategies have you used to get along with everyone?

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