Stylish Academic’s Guide to Working with People Different Than You: Co-Workers who you don’t like, have a different leadership style than, or make you uncomfortable

Sylish Academic's Guide to-Working with People Different from You1.png

Hello, World.

There’s a good chance that all of us have worked with people we didn’t necessarily consider “our people.” Sometimes you work for certain organizations or hold a job with people that you wouldn’t be around normally, but because of the circumstances, you are working closely with frequently. Working with someone who you don’t get along with can be difficult. Sometimes it’s not even that you don’t get along, but you just have different leadership styles, and that alone makes working with that person harder. However, situations where you are working with someone different from you or who you don’t like working with (note: the two are different, so you need to decide which is the problem, i.e. leadership style or personality). Today I want to share some methods of turning an unhappy working relationship into a healthy one. Truth be told, the people we work with are the people we see most often, so we should do everything in our power to make those relationships as strong and healthy as possible.

First, be kind. I know, I know. This seems obvious. You’re probably rolling your eyes thinking, “well, duh. Don’t you have useful advice?” However, I think an unhappy working situation can really wear a person down, and it becomes less and less easy to be kind and positive to co-workers. Your internal unhappiness starts to be projected outward. Even if you believe you’re handling the situation well, people are more intuitive than we think and they likely know, or at least feel, your discomfort or annoyance with the situation.

Second, do not discuss your disgruntled situation with other co-workers. I will admit, I made this mistake in college. I was really unhappy in a working relationship and at first, I kept all my emotions about the situation bottled up, then I started making comments to my other co-workers about how I was feeling. I told one co-worker just how unhappy I was (I was thinking of quitting or not returning the following year). While people listened, I know I was putting them in an uncomfortable position: they worked with both of us and some were friends with both of us. I’m not perfect and this mistake was one of my biggest in my first college job. Since then I’ve made a habit of never venting about work to anyone I work with because while venting is sometimes, and often inevitably, needed, try to keep the line between personal and work very visible.

Third, ask the person if there is anything you can do to better the relationship. While you may feel that the other person is entirely at fault, that may not be true. When we’re uncomfortable, we sometimes make other uncomfortable. Some people are oblivious. If they aren’t unaware we’re feeling a disconnect, they may just carry on, full force ahead, and never stop to think about whether we’re actually working well together. So, slowing the pace and asking if there’s anything we can do to better communication, openness, etc. may make them reflect on the relationship and go from there. Sometimes they will say “nope, we’re great together!” This is the nightmare answer. However, you can adjust the question. Say, “I noticed you seem to prefer email communication. Would you mind setting aside ten minutes each week to meet in person?” If the problem is blocked communication, having a weekly meeting will force in-person communication, which will allow the comfort level between you two to increase and allow for more honest communication down the line.

Fourth, figure out what the problem is and address it head-on. When I had my college job in which I was working with someone who I didn’t work well with, I couldn’t pinpoint the exact issue. I knew how I felt generally and I knew how I felt in specific situations, but overall I couldn’t figure out why we worked so poorly together. We had been friends for two years before working together and suddenly I felt like I was working with a stranger. Looking back, I think some of the dynamics of our friendship and things that annoyed me when we were friends were amplified when we worked together. I hate being put down or treated like I’m less intelligent than someone (though I do recognize when someone is smarter than me). The person I worked with made me feel like way regularly. I also felt like I was co-parenting. People would ask me something, I’d give my answer based on what my co-worker agreed upon and then they’d respond, “but *** told me (insert something completely different than we discussed).” Or, sometimes when I’d be handling a situation, she’d appear in the hallway, and just watch. It felt like Big Brother was watching and made me feel like I wasn’t strong enough to handle the situation. Let’s just say, different leadership styles, being made to feel inadequate or lesser, and lack of communication was at the root of this failed partnership. While it’s hard to pinpoint, finding the specific reason(s) for your feeling of discomfort in your working relationship is key to improving the situation.

How have you dealt with working in uncomfortable, less than ideal working relationships?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Advertisements

Planner Envy: The Best Planners for Back to School

Hello, World.

I have a bit of a planner obsession. While many people have turned to electronic forms of planners or calendars, I am still “old school” and prefer paper planners to electronic versions. Planners help me keep my life in order and I often tell people, “If it’s not in my planner, it won’t happen.” As a busy law student, I have a lot to keep track of (class readings, job applications deadlines, Business Law Review responsibilities, social engagements, my personal events, my blogging schedule, etc.), so I need to make sure everything gets written down or else it may be overlooked.

Simplified PlannerAcademic Daily Planner.png

Over the years, I’ve tried a few different planners and brands, and I’ve definitely loved some while I loathed others. The key to a great planner for me is enough space to write everything and having a month/daily view combo. I like seeing my month “at a glance,” but I also want the room to plan my days. In high school, I used a planner akin to the Day Designer, which I loved for that time in my life. In college, I lived and died by the Passion Planner. Honestly, I had so much going on in a single day that the Passion Llanner kept everything clear and easy to track.

In law school, I went from the Simplified Planner to a Lilly Pulitzer Planner to a Rifle Paper Co. planner. I settled on the Rifle Paper Co. planner as the best for law school because I decided to-do lists worked better for me in law school. I also liked the freedom of how I planned my day. I didn’t have to plan by the hour but it had more structure than just a bunch of lines. Though the Simplified Planner works GREAT for a lot of people, I didn’t like it because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I didn’t love that the hourly layout because I had a lot of classes that started at 11:15 then ended at 12:50 and I didn’t like that I couldn’t show that with precision in my planner. The Lilly Planners are great for many of my friends, but I just didn’t like the layout. I don’t totally know why, but it didn’t work for me. I liked the clean cream pages of the Rifle Paper Co. Planner and that I had little check boxes to check off items as I went through them.

However, depending on your needs and preferences, I think all four of the above planners are fantastic options for college or graduate school (and even your first job!).

Truly,
Callie leigh

P.S. This year, I will be using the Herb Garden Rifle Paper Co. planner!

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Doing It All

Stylish Academic's Guide to Doing ItALL.png

Hello, World.

I was having a conversation with an alumnus of my law school last weekend, and he mentioned that law associates who come in guns blazing, who charge the highest amount and work all hours of the week won’t [usually] last a year at his firm. Then he mentioned that it’s the same for law school – some students go in so hot that by the second semester, they cannot hang anymore. So, why is burnout such a real problem among young professionals and how do we prevent being one of the shooting stars (this is a How to Get Away With Murder reference, which if you aren’t watching, I recommend you start! So wickedly entertaining)? Well, a lot of not burning out is pacing yourself and preparing properly.

I watched a fellow law student my 1L year constantly stay up until the wee hours of the morning, only to get up early to be able to commute to school. This person worked constantly, rarely taking breaks and sort of overworking himself past the point of efficient studying. There were a few times I watched him fall asleep in class. I mean, if you’re sleeping through lecture, you cannot possibly be helping yourself. Also, if I noticed, there is a high probability the professor noticed considering we sat in the second row. At the time, I just kept feeling like that lifestyle just wasn’t sustainable. When I had my first day of property second semester, my professor, an older man who’s been teaching for years, said something about how last semester was over and the people who did well may do worse and the people who didn’t do well may do better.

Well, burnout was real, and a lot of those people who burned the midnight oil in the library looked so tired and worn out. A similar burnout occurs during finals. People don’t pace themselves, and by their last exam, their fingers flutter over their keyboard at a lag and their eyes don’t stay open without effort. Doing it all can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are smart strategies for getting it all done without suffering from complete burnout. So, today I want to offer my guide to getting it all done and remaining intact in the process.

Going back to How to Get Away With Murder for a moment, the law students who are referred to as the “Keating five” seem to be doing it all. They seem to be the top of their class, assisting their professor in criminal case trials, having a personal life, and covering up murders. I mean, the five stars are busy people. One of the interesting things about TV that we all know? It’s scripted and only shows us the highlights. We obviously don’t need twenty minutes of footage where the law students are studying in the library. The fact they study is implied by their status as a law student. However, there could be twenty minutes of footage of someone studying or someone working and it wouldn’t be inaccurate, just boring. Still, those boring moments contribute to the person’s outward success (if the students don’t study, their grades suffer, and ultimately they may lose their status as one of the chosen criminal law students). The boring moments are part of the “doing it all.” The reason we don’t focus on them, however, is because we focus on people’s major moments even though we are well aware that there’s much more that goes into that moment.

ONE || Find something that releases stress. The quickest way to get it all done without killing yourself is having something that you love that doesn’t cause stress. In fact, it shouldn’t be a neutral activity, but an activity that actively releases your stress. If you do not have something that releases your stress, you’ll be too stressed out to get everything done well. Remember, a lot of people get everything done, but they cut corners and don’t always get it all done properly.

TWO || Stay aware of your limits. Become familiar with any limits you have, and stay aware of them. If you know you are not someone who can work on Sunday nights, build a schedule that excludes Sunday night working. If you know you’re not someone who works well with a certain personality type, figure out ways in which working with that personality becomes easier (or figure a way to work with them less). Knowing your limits allows you to better play to your strengths.

THREE || Do what makes you happy. This may seem like an odd tip, but I feel like doing it all doesn’t really mean anything if you aren’t doing what you love. It’s a lot easier to stay vigilant and motivated if you love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, chances are every step on your career road will feel like you’re weighted down.

FOUR || Be selective. You can do it all, but when I say all I mean you can do everything you want to do. If you don’t want to do something, you are wasting precious time. When I was in college, my friend proposed that I try to be Co-Editor-in-Chief with her for the school newspaper. I thought initially, yeah, that’d be a good resume builder. However, after more thought, I realized it wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do and I knew my efforts would be better spent on the things I loved. So, be selective in what you want to do, then do it all!

FIVE || Stay organized. When you’re trying to do too many things at once, chances are something slips through the cracks. So, make sure you have a well-established system of staying on top of your tasks and commitments. For me, I make to-do lists. Loads of to-do lists. To-do lists help me track what needs to get done when. I put them in order of highest priority to lowest priority. I also have a section of things I should get done if I have a really productive day and finish my to-list early.

My final tip is this: doing it all is about preparation. You can do it all, but you want to be sure you’re prepared for what’s coming and that you remain in control of your schedule. If you become overwhelmed, you’ll probably start to let things slide, and your work product is diminished. Stay on top of your life and make strategic moves in your career. Look at things with the big picture in mind (aka do NOT get bogged down in too many details, but don’t lose sight of making sure the details are right). Life is about balance. If you are unbalanced, you cannot succeed because you will not know how to handle a heavier workload, a moved-up timeline, etc. Doing a lot of preparation on the front end will make the end result much better (and far more stress-free).

How do you do it all?

Truly,
Callie leigh