Close the Gap

April 18th 2016

Everyone has trouble with someone at work. Even you. Maybe it’s a less experienced team member. Maybe it’s a peer. Maybe it’s your boss. Whoever it is, you feel a distance, a wariness setting in toward this Other. Things used to be alright, but for whatever reason, they aren’t anymore. You don’t like the situation. 

You are smart not to like it, and I hope you want to change it. Because whether a direct report, peer, or boss, it is in your best interests to regain a cordial working relationship. The Other affects your productivity and happiness. In some cases, the Other may also affect your monetary success and longevity in the organization. 

Assuming you want the relationship to improve, it is vital to start with this understanding: nothing at all will change unless you make the first move. You are the only person you can control in the relationship. You have to initiate. Once you decide to do so, here are three essential steps to close the distance between you and the Other:

  1. First, don’t make a big deal about it. Just approach the Other casually. Say hi. Make eye contact. That’s enough for one interaction. 
  2. After that, get bolder. Engage the Other in a conversation. It can be about sports, work, or plans for the weekend. Keep it simple and short, then go about your business.
  3. Finally, take a deep breath. Ask the Other out for lunch or coffee. Don’t have an agenda. Just go. Listen, chat, laugh when you can. Get to know the Other better or differently than you have before. 

Through these little steps, perhaps you and the Other will find common ground. You might even get the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings. At a minimum, though, you will know a little more about the Other than you did before. 

Even if you discover you are unlikely to become best buddies, you will have defused some of the confusion and insecurity that existed in your mind. And you will surely be able to pat yourself on the back for making the effort.

communication, happiness, professional development

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