Global Leadership Blog

Are Other’s Workstyles Driving You Insane?

Does it drive you crazy that your coworker blares music when he’s on a deadline? Or, do you think it’s a funny quirk—or even beneficial to your own productivity?

Chances are, in your workplace, there are a plethora of differences—and similarities—between you and your colleagues. And, whether you like your co-workers’ characteristics is pretty important. Consider this: A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Vocational Behavior suggests that how people feel about their co-workers affects their job satisfaction AND their daily satisfaction with life. Think of it this way, if you don’t like your co-workers, then you don’t like your job, then you, sort of, don’t like your life. That’s a pretty big deal.

Here are some differences that probably exist where you work today:

Personality: Likely, your workplace is comprised of two different people–introverts and extroverts—and they work very differently from one another. Extroverts think out loud and move very quickly. Introverts, on the other hand, need quiet and time to sort out their thoughts. People are also different in the way they share their opinions. Some people are direct and don’t sugarcoat their feedback while others prefer to couch what they say so that they don’t offend others.

Work style: The way you work—or your work style—is very unique. One of the biggest differentiators is whether or not you like to work as a team or individually. Team workers likely enjoy delegating tasks whereas those that work alone feel uncomfortable sharing the responsibility. Other variables in work style include timeliness—can you count on your coworkers to meet deadlines or do they need to be reminded that they have a task to do. Some people are organized—almost to a fault—while others seem like they need a team of personal assistants to keep things straight. During meetings, you may notice that some of your colleagues like to discuss what they did over the weekend or the funny thing their kid did last night, while others want to keep it strictly business. Also, how do you and your colleagues handle stress? Some people thrive on it while others may get cranky, or panic and shutdown.

Cultural styles: Where you are from also plays a huge role in how you work. Some cultures, like some Asian societies, like to speak in metaphors and analogies. Others, like Americans, would rather hear direct feedback. Those from Asian cultures may find this off-putting whereas Americans find indirectness confusing. Fatalistic cultures, such as Middle-Eastern cultures, believe that much is in the hands of fate or God. Non-fatalistic cultures, such as European or American cultures, believe you can change the outcome if you work hard enough or have the right ideas or strategy. Americans really like things in black or white, or as either/or. Conversely, in Europe, there is more gray area, more subtlety. To read more about cultural differences, click here.

All these variables coalesce to make your workplace one-of-a-kind. Whether you like them is another matter. Some people really enjoy working with others that are different than them. They say it helps open their minds and innovate. Others feel like differences are barriers to their success and would rather collaborate with those more like them.

So, I want to know, do you like working with colleagues who are similar to you, or different? Why?

I look forward to hearing your response.

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson


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