The Importance of Playing Well with Others at Work

a group of people

Playing well with others at work is about professionalism and it is also critical to your success. Your ability to navigate differences between yourself and other teammates is an important skill to cultivate. Doing so will make you a stronger team member and will help others see you as a positive example. All good things. But what does playing well at work mean exactly? There are three key components of this concept to focus on.

Collaboration, communication and consideration

1. Collaboration

Look for ways to work with different teammates on different projects. Even if you don’t typically connect with the other person, focus on the common business objective or goal you are both trying to achieve. The more you work with another person, the easier it will be to read their cues and match your pace to theirs.  

If you'd like to be more proactive in collaborating to empower women specifically:


👉 Make space for women by inviting them to key meetings and creating opportunities for them to speak

👉 Providing mentorship and feedback to help women grow in their careers

2. Communication

Focus on positive communication. If you have a difference of opinion acknowledge the other person’s point of view, restate it to make sure you understand and offer a potential solution. And most importantly, leave this conversation behind once you’ve wrapped up. If you need to recap it for other stakeholders, focus on the problems and solutions you worked through, not the personal differences of opinions between you.

3. Consideration

Approach other employees and interactions with consideration. Remember that ultimately, you’re both on the same team and are trying to accomplish something for the business. Lean into what makes the other person great in their role and leverage their expertise. 

What you can control

Throughout the course of your career, you’re bound to encounter some relationships that are harder to manage than others. In these cases, it’s important to lean into the factors you can control versus what the other person is doing.

Know when to keep it professional

If the source of friction is your difference of personal opinions, keep them to yourself. Forming a few close co-worker relationships is an important source of support, especially for working moms. But you don’t have to be friends with everyone. If there’s a particularly difficult relationship at work, keep it professional by focusing on your shared goals.

Be a good listener

On-the-job stress can often be expressed as frustration or negativity. If you’re being met with resistance, it may not be directly related to your contributions or performance. Listen closely to what’s being shared, and take note if the person seems to be stressed about something else. They could be expressing that stress as negative feedback.

Focus on the positive

A little positivity goes a long way in mending strained relationships at the office. When possible, compliment the other person’s work or defer to their expertise in group settings.

Be reliable

When you hit your deadlines and contribute to the team, you make everyone’s jobs around you easier, too. Your high quality work contributes to the entire team meeting their goals and doing their jobs well. 

When you just can’t see eye-to-eye

If you’ve tried to collaborate and communicate effectively and your relationship with a certain coworker is still difficult, it’s okay to move on. When you’ve tried everything else, here are some ways to deal with difficult relationships in the workplace.

  • Move on: If you can avoid working with the person without setting yourself or others back, do so. Ask to be re-assigned to a different task or team if possible.
  • Level up: If it’s not possible to avoid the person, bring the situation to your manager and ask for feedback. Focus on your actions and your needs, not on what you don’t like about working with the other person. Suggest a few possible solutions, and ask for advice about the best next steps.
  • Call on HR: If the conflict between you and another employee feels dangerous or is creating a hostile work environment, head to HR and bring them up to speed.   

Mutual respect is necessary

The best work relationships are built on mutual respect. These types of relationships create a productive, positive environment that benefits the entire organization. Since you can’t always pick the people you work with, sometimes you’ll need to turn lemons into lemonade. Take control of the situation by adjusting your outlook. This can help you make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

Workplace culture impacts us all

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- June 1, 2022

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