Navigating your own emotions can be hard enough (we’re currently loving Goop’s advice on how to become an emotionally adept adult), but working with the emotions of other people, figuring out the best way to interact with them and forming a relationship that benefits you both, is even more challenging. But the reality is that this is the key to positive collaboration - negative workplaces often neglect the importance of what their employees are feeling. Coworkers are focused on getting their job done, and they ignore how their work style might influence those around them. Here at Cook Space, our small team sits around a table together each day, building a supportive vibe where everyone is productive AND happy is at the top of our priorities.
As a newcomer to the Cook Space crew (and a fresh-out-of-college grad), I’ve shaken up the team dynamic. Given my new presence in the studio, how could everyone get to know me? And how would I figure out everyone’s personality and work style? Our founder Michelle Mannix, who is an actual pro at maintaining awareness of herself and others, gave us an assignment to answer those questions: we were prompted to write a user manual for ourselves. (I don’t know about you, but I was not expecting assignments like this at my first job.) A user manual for myself was meant to explain how I function, and how others could best work with me. For example, if I haven’t had coffee yet, don’t talk to me in the morning. And I prefer short, direct communication to long-winded explanations. Oh, and snacks are the key to my heart.
Although assignments like this might seem silly, I found it incredibly helpful when onboarding at a new job. I love to send slack messages and emails at around 1 am, but via their user manuals I learned that my coworkers weren’t so fond of the late night notifications (very justifiably). By breaking down how we each operate, we avoided problems before they even arose, and we made our work days more productive. But even more importantly - and in a proper Life Beyond the Recipe way - making a user manual for myself was an important exercise in self reflection. When faced with writing down my distinct work style (Do I tend to procrastinate? Am I type A or type B? Do I prefer numbers or words?) I thought a lot more deeply about the kind of person I want to be - both at home and at my job. I don’t want to be a procrastinator, I do want to be proactive, and I want to surround myself with people that help me achieve both of those goals. All in all, I learned that transparency and communication are the key to a happy workspace, and that I need to make sure to check in with myself a little more often.