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Why you should treat everyone like they might be your boss one day

May 7, 2015

I am often asked if I know of people who might be good for particular roles and often times I have to think hard about the people I've worked with and the way they conducted themselves. Were they supportive, encouraging, positive or were they negative and gossipy, did they sacrifice their values to achieve their career goals?


This is why you should treat everyone like they may be your boss one day, because although they may not be your direct line manager, they may be asked about you and how you've performed and behaved in the past. We don't stay at the same place for 20 years any more, so it is very likely you'll work with these people somewhere else - that is if you get the opportunity.


Treat people with respect and try to understand them. Treat the people you work with, like humans and not just people at work.


1. Understand what is really going on with people, we all have personal lives
Lets be clear, most people don't wake up in the morning with the specific purpose of annoying you, most of the time people are unaware of how their actions might affect you. We always think we're the only ones dealing with life's crazy stuff, but everyone around you has a story. A sick relative, a divorce, a child not sleeping, an argument with a loved one, an illness and who knows what. It isn't always about you. Sometimes people are just coping with life and you're misreading their signals as a personal slight. Sometimes you just don't know what their job is and have the wrong expectations of them. Sometimes, you just don't click.


2. Misery loves company - don't gossip
The minute you start talking about that guy in the corner, you'll find that people start to agree, even if they hadn't considered it before.  Don't go around the office trying to find people to hate with. It doesn't' go unnoticed and it won't do you any favors in the long run.


3. You can't like everyone
But you can keep your concerns about other people's abilities and personality to yourself, unless you want to help them improve. if you do try to talk to them directly and sensitively or to their manager for advice on how to deal with it.  


4. Ask people if you can help or do anything differently
I often just ask the person if I've done anything to antagonise or disrupt them unintentionally to disarm and hopefully have a light conversation to clear the air - it is much easier to apologise for something you could have done, to give them permission to do the same.


"Hey Joe, I noticed you're a bit quiet lately, did I do something to annoy you, is there anything I can do?"

"Hey, thanks for asking - actually there's thing thing going on in my life that you didn't know about, so it's not you at all - sorry, I'm a bit off."


5. Find one or two people you trust to help you sort through your feelings
If you really need to vent, make sure you have a couple of trusted colleagues, but know that they have a couple of other trusted colleagues too and so really you're sharing the minute you say it out loud. We all do it, it is human nature and I'm not suggesting we don't ever discuss other people and our relationships, I'm just asking you to try and think positively about other people, before pushing them under the bus.


If you find yourself being dragged into this type of discussion, perhaps try to find a way to help repair the relationship. Find out if there is just a perception issue or a break down in communication. Help them see the positive side and reassure them that nobody sets out to upset people (most of the time) and so it is probably unintentional, offer the benefit of the doubt. Turn that frown right upside down darn it.

You'll find that by turning a potentially toxic situation in to a positive, you'll become more satisfied at work and with yourself. You might even like more people :)

One day, somebody might remember your kindness and the way you conducted yourself and help you find your next amazing opportunity.

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