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Work it Out: Getting Along with Co-Workers

Not hitting it off with your co-workers? You might need to take a step back.

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How about your interaction with co-workers -- does it reflect the way they interact with each other? How do they share ideas, resolve conflicts, work together? Selig says it pays to be observant and practice "when in Rome" behavior, going with the flow.

But don't go straight to the difficult co-worker or your boss. Ask for feedback from another co-worker (or two) you trust who also gets along with the pack. If this doesn't resolve the situation, it may be time to approach the colleague in question.

How to Talk About Workplace Problems

Try these strategies when you feel the need to talk to higher-ups or to the co-worker with whom you're having problems.

1. Count to 10. Never react to your co-worker's most recent offense. Always move forward with a cool head. Go home, sleep on it, and plan what you'll say and to whom.

2. Point the finger at yourself. Use "I" statements. Co-workers will be more open to dialogue when you're asking for help rather than attacking or blaming. Consider "I think I may have gotten off on the wrong foot. Is there anything I can be doing differently?" versus "Why are you shooting down all my ideas?"

3. Keep it professional, not personal. This cuts the chances of a defensive response. Try "Here's what I think my job is, and here's how I'm pursuing it. Is that what you and others expected of me?" rather than "No one is listening to me."

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Reviewed on August 10, 2012

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