By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS


Earnhart & Associates

Austin, TX

I try to make it a point to visit with new staff at each of our facilities whenever I can, although I haven’t in a while. I am always learning from these interactions. My questions and their answers are, for the most part, predictable, but there are some interesting exceptions.

For example, a new response to my scripted questions has come up several times from different facilities. When asked “Is everyone making you feel included and part of the team,” the answer I usually get and am seeking is, “Oh, yes, everyone is so nice and making me feel right at home.”

However, the feedback I’ve received lately from half a dozen new staff in different locations is not something I want to hear. It’s along the lines of “I don’t feel like I fit in” or “I don’t think the staff here likes me.”

Maybe this feeling is pervasive. Maybe I hadn’t seen or heard about it before. So, I investigated, engaging in conversations with human resources, some trusted staff members, and others to better understand why some people are liked and others are not. I discovered that employees who are liked or popular with their co-workers demonstrate certain traits.

Some are decision-makers who take their job seriously, seem trustworthy, are motivated, don’t mind sharing the load, and are perceived as working hard. Conversely, those who are not as popular or well liked are often viewed as manipulative, gossipers, conniving, rude, quiet, or possess other traits.

Here are some of the other things I have learned about unlikable colleagues:

• Negative people are difficult to like. Nothing works right. The administration is stupid. The docs are crybabies. I try to avoid these people because negativity can be toxic to everyone it touches.

• They smile, but just with their facial muscles and with nothing behind it.

• They are always right, and it is someone else who made the mistake. I personally respect and like those who can say they made a mistake and own up to it.

• They take the praise but not the blame.

• They don’t reach out to co-workers except with text messages. Sometimes, it’s important to pick up the phone and call.

• They don’t ask others who have been working there questions. Nothing flatters someone like asking their opinion. Try this today: Ask a co-worker a question or solicit their opinion on something.

• They cannot say “Thank you.” These people cannot express a little gratitude for someone who went out of their way to help.

• They are just plain selfish. These people never bring anything to the meetings, food, ideas, encouragement, or anything that contributes.

• Then there are the hard-to-define areas, such as poor manners. This could be someone who chews food with his or her mouth open, smacks gum, exhibits noticeable body odor, swears all the time, or burps loudly.

• They don’t pay back borrowed money. Everyone remembers a debt not paid.

• They always have their hands on their phone, communicating with someone else instead of the person in front of them.

• They are passively aggressive to those around them, thinking no one can see right through them.

Everyone wants to be liked. Start by thinking about how certain behaviors can affect those around you.

Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: Web: