Having a diversity of personalities and communication styles in the workplace can make things interesting and exciting. It can also drive you a little crazy. But if you learn to work together despite differences, there's no limit to how far your careers can go. Plus, allowing for differences in the workplace can help you maximize productivity while minimizing drama.
One of the biggest differences in co-worker communication styles is about how directly or indirectly colleagues communicate. When your manager asks your opinion on an upcoming project, you answer briefly that you think it's worth pursuing. Two co-workers, Lucy and Emma, agree that the project's worth pursuing but Lucy does so using a great deal of context as part of her response, while Emma answers using two different metaphors. No one way of communicating is best. Allowing for and appreciating different ways of communicating will up your tolerance level and improve the way you listen to, interact and work with others.
Personality-wise, there are usually differences in how thick- or thin-skinned co-workers are. You'll find a handful of thick-skinned people who seem like nothing bothers them; others, however, seem to be offended by almost everything. If you fall into the latter type, try thickening a bit by making your default assumption about your co-workers: "they have good intentions." Most of us come to work with the goal of getting our jobs done and getting along, so assuming that was the intention -- rather than assuming they're out to get you -- can help you get along better and be more successful. If you're a thick-skinned gal who inadvertently offended one of your thin-skinned peeps, take a second to reassure her that your intentions were good, to help lower her defensiveness and more smoothly work through things.
Have you ever heard a co-worker repeat a suggestion you just made in a meeting? Or one who interrupts someone else's point to get her own word in? These are the poor listeners, and they make getting things done at work tricky. While it's normal to want to contribute at work, truly listening to your co-workers -- rather than just thinking about the next amazing point you want to make -- will strengthen communication and improve relationships with co-workers.
Aggressive and decisive, quick reactors are plentiful in the workplace. They tend to make decisions quickly and, many times, react without thinking. To appreciate this take-charge personality, realize that they are really adept at getting things done and communicate with them directly and in a straightforward manner. If you have this personality, try to allow for other personalities by pausing a moment before you react so your response can be as clear-headed and positive as possible.
Jennafer Martin has more than 14 years of experience in writing, editing and brand management for literary, business-to-business and consumer publications. She is a writer for Zoe Soul Spa and "Pets in the City" magazine.