I was running late for a meeting.
I texted my boss a rather cryptic message, something about finishing up a report. He immediately wrote back and said no problem see you soon.
It was synergy and serendipity in 100 characters or less.
Sometimes that happens in the workplace. You email a quick note, and the coworker understands exactly what you mean. In one quick phone call, you relay information about a sales presentation and your colleague says "got it" and you hang up. We've all had those moments when we just click with someone at work and seem to communicate on a different wavelength. It doesn't take any work or effort. It just happens.
Of course, we've also had the experience where we seem to have to work much harder.
To say you are "communicating" with someone is to merely point out that you are emailing, calling, texting, or messaging in a functional and literal sense, but the reality is that you are saying one thing and your coworker or colleague is hearing and understanding something totally different. You are speaking Klingon and the boss doesn't like Star Trek.
The problem is that it can be hard to predict if communication will flow effortlessly or feel more like you are talking on one end of a tin cup attached to a string. What? Who? How come? Say that again? You have a lot of questions and the person you are working with does not have any answers. Or a clue. You are speaking in riddles to one another, and if you were actually friends you'd agree to end the friendship.
For those who are considering starting a new job, creating a business partnership, or even moving over to another team in the same company, it can be hard to know if you will click with someone you will work with on a daily basis. Over the years, I've found there are a few clues about whether you can expect synergy with someone...or conflict.
1. They genuinely laugh at your jokes
There's something about humor that can reveal so much about a relationship. It means you see things from the same perspective, and that is so critical. I don't want to overstate joking around as a clue to whether you will connect with someone, but it is pretty huge. OK, I guess I just overstated it. It's even worth making a few jokes to see if someone "gets it" or looks puzzled. If you laugh at what a potential new business partner or colleague says, it is also a good sign you will see eye to eye. Humor is a prime synergy indicator.
2. They repeat back what you say accurately
So, joking around can help but of course, it is only one factor. (I strongly believe it reveals a lot about how you see life, though.) Ancillary to that is whether a new coworker can repeat back what you say. There's an easy to spot red flag here: If someone doesn't really bother to repeat back what you say in any conversation, it might mean you won't get along. I remember meeting the CEO of a company once and he kept summarizing what I was saying. Good, it worked. It meant he was making sure we had a mutual understanding. I could have worked with him if I wasn't covering his company and writing about their products. I could tell we clicked. We spoke the same language.
3. They lean in
If you are not paying attention to body language, you are missing a good portion of communication, and that means you're also missing whether you will get along with someone. Say you are in a job interview. Is the person interviewing you clued into what you're saying? And I mean, physically leaning in and listening? If someone is leaning back, it's a dead giveaway (perhaps the only one you need) about how well that person will listen and understand in the future. (Side note here that leaning in means we literally can hear people better. It puts our ears closer to what they say.) Ask yourself what the body language of a potential new coworker says about how well that person is going to work with you, listen to what you say, and value your opinion.