Marmite – love it or hate it. We’re all familiar with the divisive spread and its very relatable advertising. But it’s a statement that can be just as applicable to people and their unique personalities. However, whilst you can avoid the debatably offending spread, people aren’t so straightforward.
And in the same way you can’t choose your family, or your neighbours, you can’t choose your co-workers, and they can be very much like marmite. Sometimes you might love them, other times they get on your last nerve… and sometimes there’s that special someone you want absolutely nothing to do with. But whatever your feelings, you’ve got to find a way to work with them.
So stop ‘marmiting’ your co-workers and follow our tips to remain professional, using Emotional Intelligence, to find a way to work alongside all the characters in your workplace. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have to actually like them.
- Appreciate that we’re all different.
The roads we walk are all unique and while chatty Karen in the corner may appear to share her entire life story, loudly and selfishly, you may not know the full story. Empathy is a crucial skill to develop in the workplace and forms one of the pillars of Emotional Intelligence (EI). By understanding that everyone has different perceptions and different experiences, it may help to increase your tolerance and patience.
Alternatively, stick your headphones in and simply drown her out with some Black Sabbath.
- You aren’t perfect either.
You may feel resentful about Bradley, who always brings in curry, or mackerel, and other ridiculously smelly food which he sits and eats in the office. But maybe your own habits of biting your nails, and silently glaring across the office, are just as frustrating. Self-awareness is a difficult trait to develop, with research suggesting only 10-15% of us are actually getting it right. But knowing who you are, and how you are perceived by others, will help you to improve your communication and work with others towards a common goal. Further reading about different perceptions and personalities will be really helpful to develop this understanding.
No one is perfect after all. And if you are, there’s nothing marmite about it, everyone will hate you… or at least they’ll want to.
- Emotions affect actions.
Marilyn has come barging in demanding that you prioritise finding her a new hire, because she can’t possibly keep filling in on those other responsibilities. You may want to snap back with a sarcastic retort about the fact the world doesn’t revolve around her, but will it really be worth it when the anger dies down and you find that she’s refusing to help you next time you need something? Self-regulation is all about choosing how to behave. You could fight fire with fire, but are you likely to get a better outcome by biting your tongue? Making the active choice to find a greater benefit will lead to more productivity further down the line.
Alternatively, go and work in the toilets so no one can find you and refuse to help anyone, because silos work right?
- You are the only thing in your own way.
When Jonathan sits on his phone, scraping by with minimal effort, and gets away with it, it’s easy to want to sit back and stop trying to get through your own mammoth workload. When he asks you to do something he should be doing, you may want to try and catch him out so he gets caught. But what is that likely to achieve? Emotional responses frequently cause more trouble than a well-thought out response a couple of days when you’ve calmed down. Instead of letting these mood hoovers steal your productivity, set goals with clearly outlined responsibilities in advance, keeping track of your workload and progress and take pride each time you succeed. Self-motivation is incredibly difficult but when you’re successful it can bring real joy and help to motivate others.
Alternatively, if you can’t beat them, join them. Sit at your desk twiddling your thumbs and start working on your excuses for when deadlines aren’t met.
- Communication is vital.
Half of all problems in the workplace come down to a misunderstanding. It’s common for someone to make a comment as a joke which gets taken completely the wrong way, like when Michael sent that email telling everyone to drop everything and work on his project – it wasn’t actually urgent and other important deadlines were then missed so now you’re all in trouble. Social interactions in the workplace can make or break your experiences so it’s important you develop your social skills, explain yourself well, and listen properly. Have face to face conversations explaining your requirements on a project, then follow up with an email outlining when the work is required. This gives you an audit trail as well as ensuring the message was received properly in the first place.
Alternatively, avoid everyone and ignore their requests – out of sight, out of mind.
For HR teams, ensuring a team can work well together ensures that the workload is completed and an organisation can meet its goals. When personalities clash, motivation can hit rock bottom and cause an entire department to underperform. HR can provide valuable assistance by offering soft skills training to help improve employees’ social skills, empathy, and self-motivation, with research showing this provides wider benefits to an organisation’s profits.
Author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry, has said that “90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence.”
This was supported by further research that technical programmers who were measured in the top 10% of the EI competencies were creating software three times faster than those with lower measurements.
Emotional Intelligence is a crucial skill to learn, and with HR teams helping to train the workforce to nail these skills, employees can stop ‘marmiting’ their co-workers, improving your internal culture and increasing engagement.