Even if you're one of those hotshots who likes to brag they're " not here to make friends," you must concede work is better, and more productive, when the team gets along. But some relationships, more than others, require effort: here are some ways to smooth over differences and get the job done.
1. Get them talking about themselves
(Almost) everybody loves an audience: in fact, talking about ourselves activates the same pleasure centers of the brain as are associated with food and money. Ask open-ended questions. Stem the urge to interrupt. Practice your active listening techniques. Once you've learned what makes them tick, proceed to #2.
2. Adjust your approach to their quirks
Some people love to be helpful: approach them with questions in their area of expertise and thank them when they pull through. Others need acknowledgment: send a team email highlighting their stellar work on a certain file. Others are puffy-eyed and taciturn until they've achieved optimal caffeine levels: don't ask them anything important before 10am - unless you've got a coffee, the way they like it, in your hand.
3. Show gratitude
Word to the wise: if someone's harping on dumb things you've said, disagreeing with you in front of the boss, or ignoring your contributions, their ego has probably been threatened. Combat this effect by letting them know you see their worth: a simple, "Thanks so much for your help," at the end of an email, or well-chosen compliment on their skills, can work wonders to this end.
4. Slow down
Yes, you've been mulling over Issue X all morning: Mark hasn't. So don't walk up to him and start a rapid-fire monologue about potential solutions with no warm-up. Most people, especially extroverts, talk way too fast. The faster you talk, the more it can feel like you're trying to bamboozle people with bullshit. Follow the public-speaking rule of thumb: if you think you're talking stupidly slowly, you're probably at the right pace.
5. Speak up
An above-it-all, ice-cold vibe flatters no one. Contribute in meetings. Respond in kind when people say hello to you. If you honestly have to ignore people to get in the zone, at least wear headphones so that people don't feel shafted. On the other side: don't overshare. No one at work needs to know about your religion, your ailing dog, or the injustices inflicted upon your kids by their soccer coach.
6. Go with the flow
Does everyone meet up for beer on Friday? Get together for ultimate frisbee on the weekend? Make an appearance from time to time, even if it's not your scene. Conversely, don't expect your co-workers to invite you to their bachelorette, populate your birthday party, or otherwise be your new BFFs.
7. Bring treats
Nothing like breaking bread (or candy/cookies/other treats) together to smooth over any differences. For increased success, be sure to keep in mind dietary restrictions, most-loathed foods, and favorites. Only a really tricky customer will bite the hand that feeds.
h/t Forbes, Doctor Nerd Love