Working alone is uber fun. Your own pace, total control, no one to annoy you with their idea of how things should be like. How about stretching out of your comfort zone by working with others? 

I have been blessed with really good lecturers and staff members who during my undergrad and postgrad years, have gone beyond their call of duty in helping me when I hit brick walls both in my personal and professional life. And while I am against leeching off others and using others just because one is lazy, I think that everyone needs to  at some point or another, give and receive help in order to grow.

Lately I’ve been trying to work with others and while I do admit that working on my own is a lot more easy because I have a lot of control over the end result and work pace, I know that doing this helps me move beyond my comfort level. I’m trying to experiment and allow myself to grow and learn. And so far, this is what I’ve learned :

  1. RESPECT. You will find, in the course of your projects, people who you completely adore working with, people you’re alright with and people who you downright detest. The thing is that not everyone is going to share the same work ethics, ideas, opinions you believe in. Some people find that they work better closer to the deadline, others want it laid out weeks in advance. Some people tell you outright that they want to be first author yet you will find yourself putting in more work than they are. I’ve had a friend who was using our project work in another project. I guess what can be done in the case where the person isn’t really someone you enjoy working with is to not take it personally. Remember, you are not here to be annoyed or offended. You are here to make the project happen and to grow personally — i.e. learn to manage social relations better, learn to be tolerant of others and learn not to sweat the small stuff. Respect is key. There’s a difference between disrespecting someone vs. having a personal dislike of their work style / attitude.
  2. BE FIRM AND FAIR. No one should be taking advantage of the other in any joint effort unless agreed by all parties involved. Lecturers/supervisors should never be doing students’ homeworks. Co-authors should never be sleeping partners. 
  3. LEARN. I think one of the most important things about joint work is that you learn so much from the people you work with. I’ve not only acquired skills from them but I have also realized what kind of person I want to be to make it easier for others to work with.
  4. GROW. Getting help and learning from others is good. But helping others is better. I find that when I go out of my way to make sure my partner understands a concept or help another person with editing, it does more than give me a temporary good Samaritan badge. I’m all for shared knowledge. There’s really no point in rallying for open source when we get really measly about what we deem to be “personal knowledge”.

So for this year, I’m going to do a lot of team work with the goal of meeting new people, learning from them, learning how to interact with others without taking anything personally .. to basically, just grow.