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5 things you think make you a great colleague – but actually make you worse

ARNK89S5VY1P9RTP4273You always take time to get to know people, are happy to share your ideas on cross department projects and go out of your way to ensure that the team produces its best work. Think you’re a great colleague? Think again!

You might think the following traits make you great in the workplace – but your co-workers may see things differently…

1. You’re good at keeping the peace – you’re not straight with people

You might see yourself as the office peacemaker and a calming influence on the team but avoiding conflict can create more problems than it solves.

‘It’s normal for there to be conflicts at work, it’s a pressured environment, but swallowing your resentments rather than articulating them is not the answer,’ warns Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management and author of Career Coach.

‘You’ll get very stressed and if the other person doesn’t realise there is a problem then you’re doing both of you a disservice if you pretend everything is okay and prevent an opportunity to make it right.  Get some assertiveness training if you need it – it’s an essential career survival skill.’

2. You’re a perfectionist – you’re holding up the team

If you have a tendency to “amend” your colleagues’ work or your perfectionism is holding up the team, the chances are that your “great eye for detail” is annoying others.

‘Perfectionism assumes you are right – when it may be more a matter of opinion than fact,’ says Corinne. ‘Every team needs someone who is going to be the quality controller or point out the flaws in an argument so this input is very useful.

‘However, there are times when expediency or the bigger picture is more important than the detail and you’ll need to accept this decision gracefully even if you disagree with it.  Otherwise, you may not get asked for your input again.’

3. You’ve got more experience than your colleagues – you’re overbearing  

If people ask for your advice, feel free to give it. But constantly offering unsolicited advice is basically like telling everyone that they’re not living up to your expectations.

‘While it’s great  that you are contributing ideas, being creative and giving input, if you are constantly stealing air-time then you are potentially suffocating everyone else,’ warns Corinne.

‘Instead start using phrases like “what do you think….” Or “that’s a great idea… what about if we do this too…” People are far more likely to be more receptive to your ideas and suggestions if you show tolerance and respect for theirs.’

4. You always have time for people – you talk too much

You may pride yourself on always having time for people, but if you love to chat with your colleagues, even when they’re on a deadline, your sociable tendencies may not be appreciated.

‘Talking face-to-face, rather than by email or phone, can be a good way to build business relationships but it’s not always appropriate to “drop by” other peoples’ desks just for a chat,’ says John Lees, career coach and author ofSecrets of Resilient People.

‘Keep in mind that other people may be on a deadline or busy. Be honest about how much talking you do in the average conversation compared to how much the other person does and watch for signs that they may be trying to exit the discussion and get back to work. If in doubt, keep the chat for neutral areas – like the cafeteria or kitchen.’

5. You’re quick to share your ideas – you interrupt others

You’re always happy to share your ideas, even on other departments’ projects. While others in the business may value your input, they may not appreciate the way in which you do it.

‘If you like to add your opinion to the conversation, even if it’s not requested, or have a tendency to jump in and answer questions that were addressed to other people, you may be the office interrupter,’ says John.

‘Interrupting can become a habit, so much so that you don’t even notice that you’re doing it. Wait until others have managed to get across their point before offering your input. Acknowledging their suggestions, “You make a really good point, but perhaps we should also consider…” will go a long way to making other people feel heard.’

Image: © Warren Goldswain –

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