Communication: Getting over personal differences in the workplace

September 1, 2014 3 mins read
Communication: Getting over personal differences in the workplace

Employers generally prefer candidates whose personalities are compatible with the company’s corporate culture; very often, employers will use “a lack of chemistry” as their justification for not employing a candidate.

As headhunters, a component of our job is to match up differing personalities. While it may be challenging at times, cooperating with people whose habits or qualities differ from your own is an inevitable workplace reality.

Regardless of how long we work in the one place, we will continually discover new things with which we’re not familiar. How do we cooperate with people whose mentality is utterly at odds with our own? Do we need to alter our own perspectives to match theirs?

The answer is no. You don’t need to completely accept such a person—you just need to find a way to effectively co-operate with them in order to protect your mutual interests. You may choose to appropriately reduce the extent to which you communicate with that person, and limit your relationship to a purely professional one.

On the other hand, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider whether or not there are aspects of your own mentality that others may find difficult to bear. Believe it or not, throwing yourself into a situation where you’re forced to cooperate with someone with whom you think you have nothing in common can be extremely interesting. The more you get to know such a person, the better you’ll understand their point of view; the more you understand their point of view, the fewer conflicts there will be. This process offers us an important opportunity to understand ourselves better, too. Whether it be in regards to other people’s opinions or our own, our goal should be to be more tolerant, to encourage strengths while avoiding weaknesses. Only once two people have appreciated each other’s merits can they effectively cooperate in order to get the job done.

By conducting honest dialogues, by facing problems head-on and by getting over issues of pride, you may pleasantly discover that those people who you thought you would not get along with will be interested in talking to you. When you confront them, put aside any resentful feelings, and honestly—but tactfully—discuss any doubts you may have, as well as any corresponding pieces of advice. When collaborating with people with whom you don’t have a tacit, instinctive understanding, the most important thing is to be sincere. Being open and sincere will let your interlocutor understand that you truly wish to dispel any antagonistic feelings between the two of you.

Being consistent in your words and actions is essential to working effectively. Remember: we work so that we can lead happier lives outside of work. By keeping in mind the bigger picture, you will be able to find a solution to your problems.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China