5 Tips for Working Well with Others

When it comes to a vocation in Christian Ministry or Chaplaincy, there are many strategies that can be implemented to maximise your effectiveness in working with others. Throughout our ministry and Chaplaincy courses, we cover some of these themes. So here are our 5 tips for working well with others:

1. Hearing vs Listening

As someone who teaches people how to listen, I would say that 90% of people come to me and say ‘I always thought I was a good listener, but then I learnt that I was just hearing, not listening”. There is a big difference between hearing and listening, and people respond to that difference. When people talk to you, do you look around the room, or flick through papers, or check your phone? Are you thinking about how you want to respond before they finish? Then you may be hearing them, but you are not listening to them. Watch this video and reflect “Am I really listening or am I just hearing?”. You’ll find your relationships will go to a new level when you start to listen. James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

2. To empathise is to care

In my work life, the most frustrating workmate is the one who, whenever I tell them something about me or my workload, they respond with how much worse or better it is for them, and they will often include a ‘well, at least….’. For example, if I say I am struggling with my workload, they decide to take that conversation as an opportunity to tell me ‘at least I didn’t have as much work as they had, and I really didn’t have much to complain about’. If I say I am concerned about something at home, they then tell me ‘at least I wasn’t going through all they were going through’. As you can imagine, I quickly stop sharing anything about my work and my life with them. Empathy is key to successfully working alongside a person, and yet, we use the tool so infrequently when it comes to building working relationships. Empathy means to walk (and sit) alongside people no matter what is happening. Not to fix, not to compare, not to give advice, not to quote scripture. But to sit alongside. To me, it’s when we do this to others that we really are showing them what it’s like to be in a relationship with Christ. Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

3. Seek reputation more than acclamation

The book of Proverbs in chapter 22 verse 11 gives us some wisdom about the worth of a good reputation. “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” In many workplaces today, the culture is only to do the work that receives public acclamation. If the manager asks for some information, it’s done quickly. If the admin person needs information, however, it’s often needed to be asked for a few times before any response. Or a small but key task is needed to be done, but because it is not going to be recognised in the big picture of achievement, everyone avoids doing it. It’s in taking responsibility for these things, the things that are not going to get publicly recognised, that builds a reputation that is worth more than silver or gold. Socrates put it this way “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear”

4. Care for others by responding in a reasonable timeframe

Have you ever been in a situation where what you want to get completed is reliant on someone else doing their part? This in itself is not a comfortable situation to be in. But then, when that person does not respond or keeps delaying doing their part, the situation can become highly frustrating and can affect our mental and physical health. Many times in this situation we will display anger. But a deeper emotion comes from the questions the non-response raises. ‘So why is what I need not important enough for them to do their part? Why is everything else more important than me?’. In these situations, it quickly moves from the task and into what not doing the task means about the relationship. When this happens, both parties need to re-evaluate the situation and find another way. However, an even better solution is not to let the situation get to the explosion point in the first place. If someone is relying on your response, then either respond in a reasonable timeframe or let them know of the delay and give some other positive options for them if they can’t wait (even better if you can give them a timeframe that also works for you). If you are relying on a quick response, make sure that is clear when you ask and give them a chance to give you other options if they cannot meet your timeframe. Don’t send an email with ‘when you can get around to it’ and then start getting angry if you don’t get a response in a day. Respecting each other’s timeframes and responsibilities are key to a harmonious working relationship. Matt 7:12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

5. Be willing to negotiate

I like the quote “Conflict is good in a negotiation process. It is the clash of two ideas, which then, all being well, produces a third idea”. We are not always going to get everything we want. That is just how life is. And when we work with others, this becomes even more evident.  I have noticed in many workplaces that there is currently an arrogance where people seem to think ‘I’ve thought it through so I must be right and anyone that disagrees must be wrong’, and I think, this workplace will not only loose its productive team members but will also not come up with anything new and creative. It’s when we work together (and let’s admit it, sometimes that is forced to work together) with a willingness to negotiate that we can come up with some great solutions or new ideas because we have put two or more thoughts together and been willing to see what that blending creates. The common sticking point to this happening, however, is that negotiation takes humility and a willingness to not be deemed as ‘the hero’ in the workplace in being the solo solver of a problem. It’s in these sorts of situations that Believers can show the difference that Christ makes in our lives. In having Christ in our lives, we don’t need humans’ recognition or acclamation, but we work at bringing peace and respect into a situation. 1 Cor 10:24 Try to do what is good for others, not just what is good for yourselves

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