Webster’s definition of a co-worker is “a fellow worker”. The related words that are listed are “equal, fellow, peer…collaborator…companion, comrade”.
Do these words come to mind when you think about the staff members you work with? Do you view them as a peer or comrade, or do you duck your head when you go to school and try to avoid as many people as possible?
Being a co-worker doesn’t mean that you are instantly going to click with every personality type, but the “more you get together the happier you’ll be”! A focus on the children and your common goal of helping them, can bring any team together.
You, of course, do not have control over what others say about you or do to you, BUT you absolutely have control over what you do and say about them! Here are some ideas you may want to try to become a more pleasant and non-toxic co-worker:
1. Stop gossiping! Did you know that Dave Ramsey has a zero tolerance policy in his workplace for gossip? If anyone is found gossiping they are fired on the spot, no questions asked and no warnings. He realizes what a deadly poison gossip can be and how quickly it can ruin a company from the inside out.
If you find yourself in a group that is speaking ill of others, you could try to change the subject, walk away or even be so bold as to speak out against it. We teach our kids about standing up to bullying and defending others, why should we stand idly by as it is happening in our adult circles?
2. Stop comparing. God made each of us to do a special job, to reach a certain person/people, in only a way that we can. We are unique and special and have different talents and tasks. When we look down on others for being too young/old, incapable, unintelligent, not experienced etc., we are trying to make ourselves feel/appear better than that other person. Together, maybe we can realize the unique job we all have been given and learn to encourage and uplift one another rather than tear down.
3. Greet each other. If you are tempted to head straight to your room, eyes forward hoping to avoid all contact with other staff, and head home in the same manner… you are missing out! I want to encourage you to say “Good Morning” and slowly begin to engage with your coworkers. You may be surprised at how it affects your day and others.
4. Plan Encouragement. As an educator you know how difficult some days can be. Instead of comparing our “worst day” stories with each other, why not inspire hope for a better day. Maybe once a month you can pick a day where you write a letter of encouragement to someone you are working with and either mail it or leave it in their box. The simple act of letting them know you are thinking of them could make all the difference to that person, not to mention the part that it could play in changing your own heart.
I’m sure there are thousands of other ideas and things you could do to become a better coworker. Can we challenge ourselves to look at those we work with as our “equal, fellow, peer…collaborator…companion, and comrade”?