2.3 Apply Techniques that Indicate Flexibility and Adaptability in Dealing with Others in the Workplace

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2.3 Apply Techniques that Indicate Flexibility and Adaptability in Dealing with Others in the Workplace

Being a good leader requires more than just verbal skills and the ability to manage stress. You also need to be able to adapt and be flexible when dealing with others. Adaptability is the ability to change and adjust your ideas according to changes in the environment and in other people, while flexibility is the willingness to accommodate and compromise with others to meet both of your needs.

You need both of these skills to handle your own stress and the problems that arise at work. As discussed earlier, emotional stressors are an inevitable part of work, but you can view these issues as opportunities to develop your emotional intelligence. You can display your adaptability and flexibility in different workplace situations, such as asking for clarifications if there are changes to organisational policies and procedures. Or you can collaborate with others on tasks you do not usually work on in order to facilitate your creative problem-solving skills.

In general, being flexible at work requires you to do the following:

  1. Identify your core values

Your core values are the things you believe are most important in your life. These shape your priorities and making sure that your actions are aligned with them are what makes you happy. In the workplace, keeping your core values in mind can anchor you during periods of change. 

  1. Keep an open mind

To be flexible, you must consider perspectives different from yours. Analyse and understand other people’s views and try to see challenges as opportunities.

  1. Improve your skills

Work can throw unexpected challenges at you from time to time, so it is important that you continue to develop your skills to prepare yourself. Always keep yourself updated with the latest news in your organisation and industry and try to learn about a wide variety of things.

  1. Stay optimistic

Similar to being open-minded, you must try to see the positive side of things. When you find yourself in stressful situations, being optimistic can help you stay resilient and resolve problems.

  1. Manage your stress

Facing stressful situations at work can make you lose control of your emotions. Always try to keep yourself calm to avoid making decisions or taking actions that you will regret later.

  1. Plan for the unexpected

You can anticipate changes by keeping yourself updated on the news and analysing past events. This can help you minimise risks in the workplace.

  1. Build strong relationships

By socialising and building trust with your co-workers, you can have a strong support system you can rely on.

Being flexible and adaptive in the workplace also means adjusting the way you communicate based on their emotions and communication style. The four communication styles are the following (Alvernia University, 2018):

Communication StyleCharacteristics
Aggressive– Speaking in a loud, demanding voice 
– Blames, intimidates and criticises other people
– Issues commands
– Usually does not listen to other people
Passive– Acts indifferently and yields to other people
– Does not express their own needs and wants
– Avoids confrontations
– Usually avoids eye contact and cannot say ‘no’
Passive-Aggressive– Appears passive but acts out in indirect ways
– Mutters to themselves instead of speaking directly
– Has difficulty addressing their anger
– Builds resentment and may try to sabotage others
Assertive– Expresses their own needs while acknowledging others’ needs
– Aims for both people to achieve their goalsIs direct without being overbearing
– Can confront others without assigning blame

People are usually not categorised into just one communication style, but you can get a sense of how aggressive or passive they are based on the way they interact with you. Noticing the way they communicate will help you adjust the way you interact with them. If they are passive, you can pay more attention to them by questioning them actively and getting their opinions. Or if they are aggressive, you can modulate your own voice to help them act more calmly.

Other communication styles you should be mindful of are functional, personal styles (Cumbo, 2017):

Communication StyleCharacteristics
Analytical– Looks at situations logically and objectively
– Relies on statistics to be informed
– Dislikes vague language
– Does not usually use emotional language
Intuitive– Prefers seeing the big picture
– Often thinks outside the box
– Likes going straight to the point
– Does not usually have the patience to go over details
Functional– Likes going over details
– Plans steps thoroughly
– Methodical in their process
– Usually good at implementing plans
Personal– Good at listening to others
– Resolves conflicts effectively
– Uses emotional language
– Builds deep relationships with others

When you keep these different communication styles in mind, you can easily identify what others’ styles are and how you can interact in a more effective way with them.

Another method to handle issues with other people is through humour or playful communication. This broadens your emotional intelligence because you adapt to whatever challenges the problem throws at you and it trains you to be more flexible when coming up with solutions. For example, if you feel that a conversation with someone is about to turn into an argument, you can use humour that is appropriate. 

As always, just be mindful of cultural differences in humour. Some types of humour may be accepted by people and be frowned upon by others. By judging when it is suitable to use humour and by using humour that is not offensive to the other person, you display your ability to change according to the situation. This allows you to: