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Life skills for vocational success Unit 1: Social Skills

Lesson 5: Getting Along with Co-workers


OBJECTIVES 1. 2. 3. Complete "Who I Like to Work With" handout. Explain what to do when you do not get along with somebody. Identify appropriate behaviors and topics of discussion in the workplace.

MATERIALS NEEDED Who I Like to Work With marker board or something to write on INSTRUCTIONAL FORMAT This topic will be discussion based. Much of the skills needed to get along with co-workers are covered in other lessons such as anger management, conflict resolution, communication skills, and employer expectations. If a person can master these other skills, she should be able to get along with most people. This lesson works more on a person's attitude about the people with whom he works. A person does not have a choice about the people he works with, so they have to be understanding of the differences in other people. They may not like everyone they work with, but they have to be able to work with all types of people.

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Discuss how we will not get along with everyone we work with. Sometimes we don't like how they behave, sometimes we don't like what they believe in, and sometimes we don't like how they look. Have the students fill out the handout titled "Who I Like to Work With." Inform the students that the handout is just for them, and they will not have to share the information with anyone. Review the terms "prejudice" and "tolerance" with the students. This will help set up the discussion about how to separate disliking someone because of what she does and disliking someone because she belongs to a certain group.

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Prejudice According to Webster's Dictionary, prejudice is a preconceived idea; an opinion held in disregard of the facts that contradict it; and/or, intolerance or hatred. A person is prejudiced toward another person when he does not like or has untrue beliefs about that person because he/she is part of a certain group. The groups that are usually the focus of prejudice are women, minority races, different religions, and homosexuals. However, people can hold prejudices against any person of any group. All lawyers are..., all people from the South are..., people who work in fast food are... The person makes this judgement about the other person without getting to know what that person is like. The judgement may be true, but it has nothing to do with the group he/she belongs to; rather, it has to do with what that person is like. Some examples of prejudices are: men are only interested in sex, women are weak, Jewish people are stingy, African-Americans are lazy, and Asians are smart. It is true that some men are only interested in sex, some women are weak, some Jews are stingy, some blacks are lazy, and some Asians are incredibly intelligent. But, you can find these characteristics across all different groups of people. So, when a person is lazy, it is not because of her race; it is because the person is lazy. The following is another illustration. A co-worker, who is black, takes two days off because her son is sick. The days are during the busiest part of the year for that company, and a co-worker automatically assumes she is lazy, and says, "Isn't that typical of one of them." This assumption is wrong in two areas. First, there are no facts to indicate that African-Americans are a lazy race. There are some blacks who are lazy, but there are also whites who are lazy. Laziness has nothing to do with race; it has to do with the individual person. The second problem is that the person has neglected to notice that this co-worker is one of the hardest working people on the job, and the fact is, her child has had a temperature of 104 during these past two days.

Tolerance According to Webster's Dictionary, tolerance is respecting the beliefs and practices of another person. Thus, when a person does something a different way or holds certain beliefs, you do not condemn that person or interfere with that person. That does not mean you have to agree with that person, it means that you tolerate the way he does things. On the job, there are going to be people who behave in a way that you do not agree with. If that behavior is interfering with your job or the company, you have the right to talk to that person or go to the supervisor. For example, a co-worker may believe it is OK to drink on the job. You do not have to tolerate this. Talk to her or your supervisor. On the other hand, if you did not believe that using drugs or alcohol was OK at any time, you may have a hard time tolerating when someone talks about

the parties she goes to on the weekends. If this is the case, you could ask that person not to tell you about his partying on the weekends. But, most likely you will need to tolerate the fact that he drinks outside of work.

In summary, when we hold prejudices about certain people and are intolerant of their beliefs and practices (when they do not harm anyone), it makes it very difficult to get along with others. It is important to get to know the person for who they are and respect that person's beliefs. We are not going to agree with everything a person thinks, says, or does, so working with people who are exactly like you is going to be difficult. Remind students that there are probably people who they are close to that have different beliefs from them. Most people have arguments with family members and friends over what they do and what they believe in, but we do not dislike those people because they are similar to us. Therefore, we should not dislike people who are different from us in skin color, religion, ethnicity, etc., just because they have different beliefs or practices.

3.

Discuss with people why they would not like working with certain people and try to get them to look at why. See if people can recognize the differences between not liking a co-worker because of how they behave (i.e., doing things that cause problems on the job) and not liking a co-worker because of who they are. This would be a good time to discuss the exercise on identifying who the student would like to work with. Remember that the information is intended for the student's own use, but allow students to share information if they are willing. Pick out a few of the different "types" of workers and ask the students the following types of questions:

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"Is this a good reason to not like a person? Why or Why not?" "Is that acceptable behavior at work? Why or Why not?" "Did any of your answers change after our discussion?"

Make a list of alternatives of what a person can do when they don't get along with somebody they work with. If it is because a co-worker is behaving in a certain way that is bothersome or interferes with the job, the person can talk to this person or speak with a boss. Role-play speaking to that person or speaking to a supervisor. If the person just does not like the co-worker, instruct the person to find the positive in the person and try to focus on the good points of the person when working with him/her. Have the student identify a person with whom he/she has not gotten along and list both the positives and negatives of that person. Discuss. Discuss students' behaviors that make it difficult for co-workers to get along with them. Have the students try to identify areas on which they need to work. Summarize the lesson by listing behaviors that make it difficult for people to get along at work.

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6.

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Talk a lot about their religious or political beliefs Have a poor attitude or an unhappy disposition Unwilling to help Poor work Absent or late a lot Gossip Talk too much Unfriendly Disrespectful to supervisor or co-workers Tell supervisor about things people do wrong all of the time

SIGNS OF GENERALIZATION Students are getting along better with co-workers. When they are not getting along, they are attempting to make the relationship better by either addressing the problem with the person, a supervisor, or changing their behavior or attitude toward that person.

WHO I LIKE TO WORK WITH


Instructions: For each description, indicate whether you would like to work with the person described, would not like to work with the person described, or it would not matter. Use the key below. A = Would like to B = Would not like to C = Does not matter THE WORKER... is a man A___ B___ B___ B___ B___ C___ C___ C___ C___ B___ B___ B___ C___ C___ C___ C___ C___ C___

smokes A___ is white A___ is friendly A___

does not like sports A___ cheats on his wife A___ is Native American A___ is a woman A___ uses drugs A___ is Baptist A___ B___ B___ B___

is more concerned with her kids than work A___ is Jewish A___ B___

B___

C___

C___ B___ C___

drives a nice car A___ is Protestant A___

B___

C___ B___ C___ C___ C___

makes fun of others A___ is not religious A___ B___

wears nice clothes A___ is Republican A___ is a slow worker A___ talks a lot A___ is Hispanic A___ B___ B___

B___

B___ B___

C___ C___

C___ C___ C___

arrives late a lot A___

B___

does not complete assignments on time A___ is Muslim A___ B___

B___ C___

C___

says mean things about people behind their backs A___ B___ helps me when I ask A___ gets paid more than me A___

C___ B___ C___

B___

C___

tells my boss when I am doing something wrong A___ talks about his/her sex life A___ B___ does not follow company rules A___ is black A___ B___

B___

C___

C___

B___ C___

C___

is Democrat A___

B___

C___

tries to get me to join organizations that he supports A___ B___ is Catholic A___ is Asian A___ B___ B___

C___ C___

C___ B___ C___

has been arrested A___