I was talking with my dad recently. He was telling me how the company he works for gave him a jacket. Another jacket. Normally getting the same gift from the same person more than once is disappointing. The reason these two jackets weren’t a let down is because they were awards more than gifts. He was being recognized for his good work. He won the jacket more than once.
My dad is a truck driver. In fact, he doesn’t work FOR the company; he is an independent (free lance, so-to-speak) driver who runs loads nationwide for the company. He could run them for anyone, but he chooses to work for this organization. The award he received isn’t about the number of miles he’s driven, the timeliness of his deliveries, or his great record of safe driving. Those would all be worthy of awards too.
The jackets are given as an appreciation award for being one of their most liked drivers. It’s sort of like getting the spirit award when you are part of an athletic team. My dad works hard, is respectful of others, doesn’t complain, and goes out of his way to help when necessary. Essentially, he’s easy to work with.
He told me how other drivers give the dispatchers a hard time when those drivers are unhappy with the details of a run. Also, they refuse to do any favors such as going a few miles out of their way to pick up or drop off an empty trailer. They usually aren’t paid for miles they drive when they haul empties, but empty trailers need to be taken to the next place where they’ll be filled, so someone has to take them.
My dad is that guy. He’ll do those little things to help the company even if it means he loses a few bucks in the process. He figures that if he wants the company to help him when he needs it, then he should be willing to do the same. And that’s why he won the “spirit” award – the jacket – more than once.
How Easy Are You? And Does it Matter?
So I ask you, does being easy give you an advantage?
Hey now… let’s keep it clean. I’m talking about being easy to work with. What were you thinking?
My dad isn’t the only example. One of the companies I previously worked with created a new department recently. Since they needed people to fill this new program, they reached out to people who previously worked for them and had moved on. They reached out to people who were easy to work with, even if they were not the highest performers, and offered it to them first, before considering anyone who was qualified but more difficult. Many of those they reached out to were happy to come back to be part of the new department.
In the world of professional speaking, it’s no different. For example, I have a good friend who is an award-winning speaker. He works with various colleges and universities to speak to their assemblies and leadership groups. He is brought back year after year, not only because of his awesome message and speaking ability, but also because he is easy to work with. I listed to a group of activity planners from different schools talk to each other about certain speakers being challenging to work with, and therefore, not being invited back. Even if they were awesome speakers with a great message, it isn’t worth it to the school representatives to deal with that person when they can find speakers who are great at what they do and not difficult.
Wondering where you’d fit in on the scale of easy to difficult?
Here’s a list of things to consider when gauging how easy you are to work with:
- How often do you complain? Rarely or never is best.
- Are you helpful, even if there is no personal gain? If yes, great. If no, how can you begin to be more helpful?
- Are you reliable? Do you get things done on time? Do your share (or more) of the work? Show up when you say you’ll be there? These are all examples of being easy to work with.
- How good of a listener are you? Do people have to repeat themselves? Can you repeat back what you just heard? Do you write things down so you won’t forget? No one likes having to say the same thing again and again. Get it the first time or two.
- How argumentative are you? When someone shares information with you, are you quick to find the flaws? Do you point out where you believe they are wrong? Do you share how your way is better? None of those is an example of someone who is easy to work with.
- How do you react to feedback? If someone shares with you a way in which you can improve, do you get defensive or do you appreciate the feedback and consider its validity? The latter is a more beneficial response.
- How do you react to your own mistakes? Do you pass blame to someone else or take responsibility for them? Taking responsibility is better, obviously. Then I ask, do you go above and beyond to make up for any mistakes? That’s how you take it to the next level.
Being easy to work with doesn’t mean you are a doormat. It doesn’t mean you let people walk all over you or treat you badly. You can be assertive, confident, competent, and fun AND be easy to work with. It’s more about the way you behave than the way others behave in your presence.
Imagine interviewing for something you want and having a myriad of awesome recommendation letters and/or people to add to your personal reference list, because no matter what you were doing, you were a person they were glad to have on the team. Connections with others are important for many reasons; having great references is just one example. But just being connected won’t get you what you want. Being connected with a number of people who respect you and enjoy working with you will.
Did you ever win an award for your attitude? If so, I’d love to hear about it. In the comments below, share what you won and why you won it, so everyone can get more tips on ways to foster fans.
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