Throughout my career, I have come across colleagues and higher ups that I had a great rapport with, but others were downright scary to approach. The reality is, you can’t break up with your co-workers (although you may want to); you need to make these relationships work. Here are some principles and techniques that helped me talk to the scariest of my former Wall Street brethren. I hope they help you too.
You can’t change your co-workers; you can only change your response to them
The bottom line is you can’t fix or change your co-workers, but you can alter your response to them. If you are really calm on the inside, your crazy co-worker on the outside will bother you less. Find a way to get relaxed, (meditate, do yoga), sit back and watch the insanity, and try not to get wrapped up in it. Easier said than done, I know, but over time, with practice, like anything else, it will get easier.
Clear the fear: Meditate
You need to leave early, or take a gym break during crunch time, or get some clarification about a task: completely legitimate things to ask your superiors about–but I see a lot of fear especially with younger folks (I was there once too) around approaching upper management on these matters. Next time you feel such jitters, try this meditation from the Energy Healing Institute: imagine lighting up the fear in the form of little iron filings (Etch a sketch style) and sending it down a bamboo pole; you can do this while running, walking to the water cooler or a traditional seated mediation prior to your workday.
Get out of your head: Say something
Throughout my career, I would be up in my head over-analyzing the person I was afraid to approach and what they thought of me. When I was able to clear the fear (see above) and talk to that higher-up, I often found my perception of the situation was completely WRONG! When you are in a really calm place, schedule a coffee with your co-worker and talk about the issue you are having/what you need from them. You may be surprised at the grateful reaction you get for saying something.
Be a change agent: Organize group feedback sessions
It is easy to get stuck in an organizational rut where day in and day out, people keep to themselves, get their work done and go home. Exercise your leadership muscles by getting the group together in a relaxed atmosphere. If you get people talking in a more comfortable environment, they are more likely to share their views.
I hope one of these techniques helped you, and I’d love to hear how you manage communication in your workplace!
Stacy Slawitsky turned to yoga and mindfulness as a means to relieve the stress of a demanding job at a Big 4 Accounting Firm. Her passion to share the benefits of these practices with others led her to start ZenConnect. She conducts stress management programs for companies throughout the Boston area.