Feel Like Punching Someone in The Office?

Punch — Pamela Graham

We spend a third of our life staying in the same space as our colleagues — some more familiar than others due to our own job nature. As in all things in life, neutral condition hardly exists. At some points, it will — as everything would try reaching for equilibrium (fail, and it will crumble to pieces).

Only a few years into careers, I have encountered many new experiences, some good and some others nearly good. The experiences usually come from dealing with various tasks, projects, alongside different partners (stakeholders, team mates, cross divisional peers, leader, vendors, etc.).

With the varying kind of people existing, we are bound to bump into the ‘likable’ and ‘unlikable’ partners. We would be more willing to help the former than the latter, wouldn’t we? We are letting our emotions influencing our actions.

But, that’s wrong! We are supposed to act professionally!

Yes, as a professional worker, we are expected to have composure, to always be logical and rational, and possibly with bias to risk-taking or risk-aversion. However, aside from those, we are also people with emotions.

Recall one or two occasions where you think rationally and logically.

Now, let’s think of one or two where you feel good or bad.

Which one is clearer? They all fade away eventually, but the former fades earlier than the latter.

Emotion, therefore, plays as big part as our thought in our action, if not more.

Crazy Meow — Sergiu Bacioiu

Nevertheless, if we want to be able to be neutral, to separate personal matter to work matter, we could try the following ways:

The first step is to understand why we like or dislike particular people. Referencing from Rolf Dobelli: A research shows that we see people as likable if:

  1. they have pleasant appearance,
  2. they are similar to us, in terms of origins, personality, or interests,
  3. they like us.

The opposite should be true for people to be unlikable to us, either they have attributes that are not of our preference, they are different from us, or that they simply don’t like us. If you are a very controlled person, you will find these guys normal, without bias to any end of the spectrum.

Second, as we have known some factors that cause us to like or dislike others, we could set our emotions apart from our thought, at least for a while, and acknowledge that everyone is unique, just like you and I (OK, we are similarly unique). We accept that although we might be Batman, our partner might not be Robin (or even Kevin), and we might not have same point of views for everything.

Third, having the benefit of doubts towards others will help. People don’t usually do things that would hinder them from reaching their goals (which should be the KPI or project success). That alone should provide us with enough motivation to help our company succeed, despite our personal preferences towards the particular parties.

There, we have listed three ways we could save ourselves from suffering emotionally in workplace. There would be many more, of course. And it would be great to listen to your inputs! Take the liberty to comment below!

P.S. Are we the ‘likable’ or ‘unlikable’ ones?

The self-reflection below might light the room for us:

  1. How do we treat our colleagues, peers, subordinates, or manager?
  2. How do we want to be treated?
  3. How do our partners want to be treated?

Hint: often, some fall to the trap of being bossy, but, unfortunately, smart people like you probably don’t like to be bossed around disrespectfully. Or, do you?