October 17, 2012
6 Things I Learned from Working with Others
2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to join a team of three during the establishment phase of an online newspaper. It was not going to be a yet-another-online-newspaper, it was going to be an online newspaper, prepared by the students of our university. After being a part of that project for 2 years, lately I decided to resign from both of my duties: Administrative Coordinator and Director of Online Operations. I had been the Administrative Coordinator for 40 days and had been the Director of Online Operations for 2 years. These are the things I learned in the meantime.
#1: Do Not Let Others Interfere
This is probably the biggest problem I suffered from. People think that since they can use a web browser, they have the necessary knowledge and experience to criticise the design of a web page. By the way, I’m not talking about constructive or valid criticisms here. I’m talking about questions like “What’s wrong with Comic Sans?” or “Using human friendly timestamps such as ‘2 hours ago’ is confusing, it should be dd/mm/yyyy.”. I think you got the gist of it.
I’m always open to new ideas so long as they make sense but these are just tiring, especially when the person you are talking to resist not to understand.
#2: Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
This is actually what I should have done to prevent #1 from happening. Every single person in an organisation should have a specific duty and should not cross boundaries by disturbing others by commenting on everything, without thinking twice. Sure, everyone should be able to comment on others' works but if the quality of those comments are not above a certain level, those comments just become annoying and make you regret your decision to join the team.
Establishing well-defined boundaries is a must, unless you are working with awesome A-level people which practically never happens.
#3: Prepare Yourself for Being a Scapegoat
Remember when your decisions were always criticised and you decided not to listen to them because their comments did not make any sense? Good. Because the moment something goes wrong with your decision, they will instantly say “You should have listened to me”. Do not even try to tell them how it would be a lot worse if you followed their suggestions. They just won’t get it. Accept your well-deserved(!) failure and move on.
#4: Do Not Stop Yourself from Speaking the Truth
Just you are enjoying their friendship does not mean you cannot disagree with them or you cannot uncover what they are hiding. Furthermore, when the truth meets the sunshine, the others will think you were a part of that thing they were hiding because: a) You are their friend. b) You did not tell. Never, ever, choose hiding the truth in favor of protecting others. They would not do the same for you. Sorry, sad but true.
Being friends and co-workers are completely different things, so keep them separate. If you are the only one who can separate the two, you should start considering leaving before things get ugly.
#5: Do Not Make It Your Top Priority
Stop for a second and look around you. If you are working harder than others, doing your duty properly and even cleaning the mess that others create, you should consider decreasing the priority of that organisation in your life. You can work on better things instead or just use that time to sit back and relax. You will see them leaving right away when they realize that they have to work a little harder.
Don’t torture yourself if the project is not going anywhere and the cause of it is not you. Don’t spend your time for nothing. They don’t deserve to work with you.
#6: Leave When You Stop Having Fun
You are not a part of this because your life depends on it, right? Then you should always take the fun factor into account. Taking things you are working on seriously is a good thing but if you do this for absolutely everything, it will just start to secretly demotivate you and actually harm you.
You may think that you can actually prevent these things from happening by changing others. It may sound a simple thing but it’s a fact that you cannot change people for good. You can change them for some time but they will soon become who they actually are and your efforts won’t change anything at the end. This will only help you to postpone the inevitable consequences.
Don’t let others suck the life out of you. Life is too short to work on things you are not enjoying.