people with laptops working

You’ll work with many different personalities.

When you start a new position, you’re excited and nervous, hoping you’ll get along well with everyone and maybe even make new friends on the job. Who doesn’t want to fit in with a new team? But everyone is different and you may not mesh well, personality wise, with a coworker or vice versa. You may feel like you’ve done something wrong or that you should start looking for a new place to work where you can be friends with everyone. Guess what? The same thing can happen in any workplace. No matter where you find yourself, you’ll always be interacting with people that have personalities very different from your own. Instead of starting over at a new job, take some time to understand how you can work with almost anyone. Here are a few tips on making it work with your team.

Understand your own personality.

You don’t have to “find yourself” or get very deep (unless you want to) to understand some basics of your personality and how you best work with others. If you’re interested in taking some fun personality tests to figure yourself out, learning your Myers-Briggs Personality Type can help you understand a bit more about who you are in and out of work. But if you’re not interested in personality quizzes, no problem! You can understand a thing or two about your personality at work by thinking of your past jobs. How did you get along with the others on your team? Was there anyone you didn’t like? Why? How do you prefer to work?

Finding the answers to these questions can help you understand your work self a bit more. Maybe you prefer to work in a quiet environment and you’re frustrated when you share working space with chatty coworkers. You just want to get your work done! But instead of getting upset or being rude, let them know politely that you like to work with music on so you can concentrate.

Remember that you’re on the same team.

When you’re working with someone you don’t quite understand, you can feel frustrated. But even if you’re not on track to become best friends with your coworker, you’re going to have to learn to work with them. The best way to start is by remembering that you’re on the same team, and no matter how different your personalities are, you probably have the same goals: completing the work assigned to you and doing it the best you can. If they do their job well and you are both able to do what you need to in order to make sure things go as smoothly as possible, it’s completely fine not to be friends. Not everyone wants to share their personal life with coworkers, so being polite, working together to reach your team and company goals, and respecting each other goes a long way.

On that note...

Be respectful of the different people you work with.

You’re going to run into a variety of personalities throughout your career. Some of them you’ll like, some of them you won’t, and you’ll feel neutral toward a good number of them, too. But whether or not you socialize with them outside of work or know nothing about them outside of what they do on your team, respect goes a long way. Maybe you have nothing in common, or you dislike the person’s opinions on politics; whatever the case, there’s no reason to be rude. Respect their opinions and preferences, like they should yours, and maintain a peaceful working relationship. If you both do your work well, there’s no reason personal opinions or feelings should interfere with that.

Try to understand how the other person works.

You know how you work best and what motivates you to get the job done. That helps your performance, but understanding how the other people on your team – especially those who are very different from you – work can make you a stronger team. Do your coworkers concentrate best when it’s quiet? Do they need music? Are they independent workers, or do they like to have a list of tasks from a supervisor to understand what they should complete during the shift?

In the past, you might have gotten angry at someone who browses social media during lunch and you felt like they weren’t doing as much work as you. But that person could have also been trying to concentrate and that’s what worked for them. Before letting your differences interfere with your team dynamic, take a minute or two to ask them what they prefer and let them know what works for you.

Choose your battles.

You’ve been respectful, you’ve taken the time to understand how the other person works best, and you’ve made an effort to be a team player, but you just can’t stand working with this person anymore. You dislike something they do or don’t appreciate their attitude. It’d be nice, you’re thinking, if they’d at least ask you how your weekend was even if they don’t care. Or maybe someone is always late, making the rest of the team work harder to pick up the slack for them. Which problem should you bring up to your manager?

If you take every small annoyance – some of which are just a matter of personality differences, like the person who doesn’t want to chat about personal things at work – to your supervisor or manager, you’re going to make things uncomfortable for the entire team. Besides that, you might get a reputation as someone who is difficult to work with. Not all things that your coworkers do are going to agree with how you feel things should be, and that’s normal! Everyone is different.

When you’re dealing with different personalities, there will be some clashes, but it’s important to choose your battles. For example, that person who isn’t really talking to you and doesn’t want to be friends, but does a great job at work and finishes their tasks on time, shouldn’t get in trouble with a manager. But that coworker who always inconveniences the rest of the team and disrupts the workflow by being constantly very late, should be.

Your team is a mix of personalities – and that’s a good thing.

A great team in any workplace is one made up of a variety of personalities. The mix of talents, skills, and ways of thinking makes for a well-run team that can get the job done. You can learn more about your personality and dealing with other personalities in Dr. James Hurrells webinar from our 2019 Student Success and Career Fair. Besides learning to understand yourself and others, taking a course in soft skills, like Penn Foster’s Career Readiness Bootcamp, can help you take the next step to build your people and leadership skills. Whether you’re preparing for a new career or you want to advance in your current one, learning to get along with everyone can make a big impact!