At work, what can get a person in trouble with colleagues? Is it when he doesn’t replenish paper in the photocopier? Is it when she leaves a dirty dish in the kitchen sink to soak? Is it when he doesn’t say “hello” in the morning?
Are these things annoying? Yes. But are they the kind of actions that will give you a poor reputation in the office? Not really, at least so long as they are an occasional slip-up.
What can really rankle colleagues is when they are treated in a demeaning way. Unlike the photocopier or the dirty dish, which are passing annoyances, being treated in a dismissive or demeaning way sticks with the aggrieved person for a long time. It damages a reputation.
Here are four actions that cross the line:
Interrupting. Your colleague is in midsentence when you step in and start talking right over her. “Jane, let me explain the reason why . . . ”
You’ve just insulted Jane by not letting her finish. When you interrupt a person, you are saying, “You aren’t important. I am.”
Ignoring. You’re involved in a discussion with your team. Yet throughout the discussion, you don’t look at John, you don’t draw him into the conversation, and if he tries to say something, you don’t acknowledge him.
Discounting ideas. As Gretchen starts outlining her conclusions, you chime in, “That’s simply not important, here’s what matters.” She is on the team to contribute, but you have just told her what she thinks is unimportant.
Not introducing people. You’re at the water cooler enjoying a 10-minute break. The new person you met recently approaches to join you and your friend. Instead of bringing him into the conversation, you continue talking to your friend as though the newcomer isn’t even there.
One of the most effective ways to combat a superior attitude is to be a good listener. Focus on the person; nod your head occasionally, ask a follow-up question, or restate a point the person makes, offer a compliment. When you are a good listener, you show respect for others, which helps you build strong positive relationships in your place of work. The benefit to you: the respect of your colleagues.