Inspire generosity in coworkers

Q. By nature I'm a rather envious person. When I notice coworkers getting advantages I don't, I tend to obsess. I find my coworkers are tight-lipped and often unhelpful. How can I get more support from my work team?

A. You'll get more support from your work team if you do the opposite of what your envy would motivate you to do. When we are envious, we find it so painful to see anyone getting what we don't have that we give little or no support to our coworkers. Our coworkers will return the favor and have no interest in helping us.

The attitude of envy whispers to us that we should make sure we never open any doors of opportunity for anyone else because we'll find it painful to watch others thrive. If we never benefit anyone in our workplace, we guarantee long-term pain for ourselves because we have no support network that wants to see us succeed.

The opposite of envy is the attitude that you should always leave people you work with in a better position every time they deal with you. In every meeting, conversation or phone call, ask yourself what you can offer that would make the other person's job easier.

Most people are naturally quite grateful when you help them. You don't have to use any manipulative tool to trick them into supporting you, just that good old-fashioned "you fill their bucket, they fill yours."

Your coworkers are motivated to do what they perceive will make their work life better. If you are a consistent source of ideas, resources and referrals, they will need you to do well so you are around to help them.

At first, you may find it nearly physically painful and the opposite of your "normal" instincts to be helpful to your coworkers. Your team may even view your change of attitude with suspicion. However, with every conversation you'll find it easier to listen for how you can provide a benefit to the person in front of you. As you see your help returned, you'll be motivated to be an even better resource to your team.

We often hear in popular psychology that we should listen to our "gut instincts," but there are times our gut will lead us astray. You can't be both a force for preventing your coworkers from getting goodies while you get goodies for yourself. The workplace is a big enough space for everyone to win if you make sure your envy isn't running your decisions.

The last word(s)

Q. My manager has put someone in charge of an important project who doesn't have the skills to do the job. Should I tell him before there is a problem?

A. No, a moment of personal experience is worth hours of you giving your opinion about future problems.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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