Best practices for playing well with others

One Best Practice

In my last post, I mentioned having a high EI (emotional intelligence). I think that’s an essential characteristic for admins to have. Why? Being able to accurately identify what you are feeling (self-awareness) and being able to control those feelings (self-discipline) plays a large part in whether you are the right match (stay the right match) for your employer. EI is also being able to recognize other people’s emotions and knowing how to positively act around or control an emotional situation.

So, being able to get along with your colleagues—playing well together—means knowing yourself really well, and being able to control yourself (your emotions) well. Don’t become the drama queen/king in the office.  And don’t enable others to be the drama queen/king. And don’t let yourself get caught up in the drama. 

Another Best Practice

Discover your learning style, and learn to identify other’s learning styles. In other words, what works best for you (and others) when it comes to processing information?

I discovered my learning style from a seminar I attended (one geared toward “being the best admin you could be,” or something like that). The presenter discussed kinesthetic, visual, and auditory (K, V, and A).

  • Kinesthetic = you learn best by doing, by touching (think hands on your keyboard), by action.
  • Visual = you learn best by seeing, by viewing. You need visuals, whether it’s graphs, a simple crayon drawing, or written text.
  • Auditory = you learn best by hearing, by creating mnemonic type strategies for remembering, by repeating what you hear.

If you can determine your colleague’s way of processing information (their learning style), then you can adapt your style to align with theirs—and you know what that gets you, right? Both of you will play well (play better) together. Here’s an example:  I was definitely kinesthetic and the engineer was definitely auditory. I would rush into his office and immediately start talking. He would have to stop what he was doing, slowly turn to look at me, then say, “What did you say?” And I’d be like, “What is he, deaf? How come he didn’t hear what I just said?” That happened repeatedly and it was very frustrating for me, and I suspect frustrating for him as well. (Here’s this whirlwind admin rushing into his office and speaking so fast he can’t get a handle on what she is saying.) When I finally realized he is so predominantly auditory, I adapted. I stopped rushing into his office and instead I would do this:  Knock on his door and keep my mouth shut until he turned around to acknowledge who was knocking on his door. When I had his attention, I would say, “Brad, I have three things I need to check with you.” And he’d say “Okay.” Then I’d start by saying “The first is (blah, blah, blah).” Well, guess what? The minute I adapted my kinesthetic style to his auditory style (I slowed my speech, I didn’t enter his office until he acknowledged me, I had my three-item list in my hand so my hands weren’t doing the talking), the communication between us was so much cleaner and clearer, and less stressful and less aggravating. So doing that one simple thing—identifying your colleague’s KVA dominance—and then adapting your style to align with or match their style—really does help you play well with others (get along well with others).

Another example: Two admins having a conversation. Admin A gets noticeably irritated when Admin B repeats back everything Admin A said, and even goes so far as to say to Admin B, “That’s what I just said, don’t you listen?” What Admin A hasn’t discovered yet is that Admin B is an auditory learner, and Admin B needs to repeat (sum up) what Admin A said so he can be sure he captured everything (is processing everything) he heard. If Admin A knew about different learning styles (kinesthetic, visual, auditory), then Admin A would very likely quit being so mean-spirited to Admin B. Admin A in fact, would totally understand Admin B’s need to repeat what was said to gain clarification and understanding in his mind.

The seminar presenter gave us a few quick examples to find out if you are K, V, or A. One of them was:  If you were going to buy a couch, what do you do when you enter the store?

If you answered something like: I go to the couch section and sit down on every couch to see how comfortable it is. You are kinesthetic.

If you answered something like:  I go to the couch section and tell the salesperson to show me couches that are at least six feet long. You are auditory.

If you answered something like: “I go to the couch section and look at all the couches that would complement the autumn color theme I have going in my front room. You are visual.

Me? I am KVA, and predominantly in that order. There are a number of websites that have quizzes you can take to find your learning style.  Here’s a cool one:

Oh yeah, the seminar presenter also said that most engineers are auditory, and most architects are visual. That makes sense to me; would you agree?

I’m interested—what’s your dominant style—K, V, or A?


2 thoughts on “Best practices for playing well with others

  1. Judy, your blogs are so interesting! Have you ever thought of writing a book? PS – I’m exactly the same learning type as you; KVA, in that order. I’m going to share this blog post with my Assistant Editor colleagues. I think they would get a lot out of it. Thank you!


    • Thanks Erin; I’m glad you find them interesting. Learning about KVA really opened my eyes on how to interact with people in the office. I still find myself “typing” people and having to adjust my style to theirs (much easier to change me than them!). Writing a book? Oh yeah, many times!

      Take care.



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