How to Be a Better Co-Worker

Lesson 1/5 - Class Introduction


How to Be a Better Co-Worker


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

It is a pleasure to be here with you, my champions of etiquette. It is so good to be here. I wanna welcome you back if you've been here before, and to this particular course, where we're gonna talk about manners for the workplace. Manners for the workplace are particularly important and particularly challenging. I like to remind people that we get to choose our friends. We are connected to our family by important ties, familial ties that are hard to overstate the importance of. The bad news is that we're gonna probably spend more time with the people we work with than we get to spend with these other important groups of people. The ways that we manage and handle these relationships is so important to the quality of our lives. It's important to our professional success, but the real point of emphasis for me about workplace civility and workplace etiquette is that it's also important to the quality of our lives. The ways that we get to spend our days. The experience that we have when we ...

wake up in the morning and we say to ourselves, it's time to go to work. So what impacts the quality of that experience? Ultimately etiquette is about relationships. These are relationship skills. So we wanna invest in these relationships and we wanna invest in them both for our success, but also for our happiness. There are a couple of different places that we can focus. One is the etiquette for meetings. Now, whether you go to an office every day and you spend eight hours a day or nine hours a day, five days a week, or some codified and specified period of time with your coworkers, or whether you meet them occasionally or remotely, meetings are likely to be a part of most professional relationships at some point or another. So we're gonna look at basic strategies for participating well in meetings. We're then gonna shift focus. We're gonna do a little workplace etiquette true/false quiz. This is for my champions of etiquette. For those of you who care enough and invest enough to be here and to be thinking about these things. It's a little call on response that's gonna lead us directly into a slightly longer discussion about some workplace behavior basics. These are some really simple core concepts that we can all use to hold ourselves accountable to the ways that we interact every day. Hopefully, if we hold ourselves accountable in these ways, we have the opportunity to make small changes. Not huge changes, not whole scale personal changes or evolutions, but little changes that are gonna tangibly impact the quality of our relationships with our coworkers. I'm then gonna talk a little bit about effective feedback. It's really important that we know how to navigate difficult and awkward situations as well as really good situations. I wanna talk about how you give critique. How you have difficult and awkward conversations. How you have really strange or strained conversations. And then I wanna focus on the positive. I wanna walk out the door thinking about the good things. I wanna think about ways to leverage compliments in a way that make them really effective and also make them courteous and polite. So that's where we're going. Let's get started. I wanna start off by focusing on meetings. In the course where we talked about business social skills, we talked about host and guest roles. And in many ways, the standards and the strategies that you employ when you're participating in meetings have to do with identifying the role that you're playing in that particular situation or scenario. So the first thing I tell people, so you wanna be prepared. But that's gonna look different if you're organizing a meeting or if you're participating in a meeting. As an organizer, what does it look like? Well, it means that you come in with a strategy in mind, some idea of what it is that you're going to be doing. You've probably done the inviting. You wanna do the inviting. Well, if you've got that conference room signed out for one hour and you have some mission critical agenda items that you need to get through, talk to people about it. Right at the start say, we've got this conference room for an hour. We have three things we need to get through. That means we have 20 minutes for point A, 20 minutes for point B, 20 minutes for point C. And I'm gonna hold us really accountable to that agenda because we have to get these things accomplished. Maybe you walk in and say, this is a blue sky meeting. We're gonna brainstorm about the word etiquette until we fill up this sheet of paper. If that happens in the next five minutes and we've got enough content, we can all go enjoy an early lunch. There is no right answer, but you wanna give people some idea of what to expect, you wanna set the stage so that people can participate successfully. As a participant, show up ready to participate. This is a theme that returns again and again and again. It's not enough just to get there. You need to bring your willingness to participate. You need to bring your energy, your enthusiasm, your desire and commitment to participate just a little bit. You're gonna get more out of it. You're also gonna be a more vital contributor to whatever happens, whether it's a high stakes processing of three agenda items, or whether it's a blue sky meeting, where you're really just generating ideas for the coming year. So know your role. It's gonna help you participate well. It's gonna help you prepare in whatever way is most effective. If for any reason you can't play either of these roles well, let other people know. Let 'em know ahead of time. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Show some respect to the other people who are making an effort, who are making a commitment to be there to participate, who are also participating in that preparation and planning phase. Let 'em know. If you haven't notified others about changes in your plans, be punctual. Show up on time. It's remarkable to me that we haven't spent more time talking about this already, the importance of punctuality and timeliness in business relationships can't be overstated. In some ways it's really good that it comes up when we're talking about workplace civility because this is one of the places where it really counts, where it really matters. Oh, I was so busy, I didn't get to it. If you want something done, ask a busy person. Everyone's busy. The question is do you use that as an excuse to justify being late or not? Keep your commitments. Honor time contracts. A day late and a dollar short. Time is money. There are all of these expressions that connect the idea of the value of time and the consequences of not respecting the value of time. It's an important concept and you wanna honor it. Have all relevant materials ready when you show up. So if you need a whiteboard for your blue sky session, have a whiteboard. If you've got to share a budget to work through a budget meeting, have copies of the budget printed. If you're showing up at a prospect's office, have your business cards, have the materials that you're going to leave behind ready. Have your materials ready. That's part of preparation, but it's also part of the way you interact the day of, when that experience begins. Turn off your cell phone, pager, watch timer, or anything that might distract you from the meeting. There are two places where surveys consistently show people have higher expectations that people stay off their cell phones and mobile devices. At the dinner table is one, at meetings is another. The meetings one is a little counterintuitive for many people 'cause these are professional tools. In some ways maybe I'm showing how engaged I am, how busy and how productive I am by answering emails throughout a meeting. Probably not. It's probably being seen as you taking your attention elsewhere. The most likely offender, the most likely culprit in the room? The boss, the supervisor, the worker with perceived value talent, the person whose time is so valuable. We're gonna talk at the end of our course today about the appearance of acting superior to others. How important it is not to appear to act superior to others. It's one of the worst things you can do in the workplace. One way that you show other people that you don't really respect them is by being callous with how you treat their time and attention. Hold yourself accountable. Stay off that device. If you don't really need to answer emails during the course of a meeting, don't answer emails during the course of a meeting. Don't let your device interrupt or bother the other people who are present. During the meeting, keep a positive attitude, keep a game face. Stay engaged. Don't contradict the other people that you're with. Even if you disagree. What are the old expressions? Figure out how to disagree without being disagreeable. If you're meeting with guests, visitors, outsiders, clients, prospects, think about presenting a team face. Maybe it's important. Maybe you don't want information that's incorrect to get out. But if possible, try not to undercut each other. Try to keep your participation as positive as possible. If you need to divert from this course of action, if for some reason you need to make an exception to this rule, knowing that the basic standard is that you play as a team player and you don't contradict each other will help you do that well. Pardon me, I don't mean to interrupt, but I just have to interject here, X, Y, or Z. And then finally, follow-up. That's gonna look different in the same way the preparation looked different. For someone who's leading a meeting and someone who's participating in the meeting. As an organizer, that's sending minutes or to-dos. If someone's typing up meeting notes or agenda notes, it might be up to you to distribute them. It might just be up to you to be sure that they're distributed. If you've offered to get people PDFs of your presentation, send PDFs of your presentation. If you're a participant and you've agreed to do something, do that thing that you've agreed to do. It's easy to make promises. It's harder to keep 'em. Hold yourself accountable. These are some basic meeting tips. They should seem like common sense advice. I really hope they do. If they sound like common sense, they're probably common sense. They probably, that, that behavior that describes our expectations of each other and of ourselves in a reasonable way. At the same time, people make common sense mistakes all the time. I think it's worth articulating them and worth reinvesting and adhering to these basic standards.

Class Description

You can’t be successful at work if you don’t have strong, positive relationships with your colleagues. But that’s easier said than done. Sometimes we’re confronted with challenging coworkers, superiors, direct reports or clients who test our patience. And sometimes we don’t always behave in the most productive ways.

This course teaches you specific behaviors to help you build and maintain good relationships at work, even under the most stressful conditions. You’ll discover that while we don’t always get to choose who we work with or how they behave, we do get to choose how we respond.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use seven basic behavior standards to maintain good relationships at work.
  • Handle difficult work relationships.
  • Give effective critical and positive feedback.
  • Test your basic assumptions about workplace civility.
  • Avoid the most common etiquette mistakes.
  • Have difficult conversations with coworkers.
  • Behave well in meetings, whether you’re an organizer or a participant.