When it comes to dealing with difficult people in life, we often try to prepare for the worst and make a plan of attack. The common attitude is, “Oh no! I have a problem; how do I fix it?”

Handling troublesome colleagues in the workplace can have its own set of unique challenges – projects, people and processes can become affected, not to mention your own sense of well-being and job enjoyment.

Is it possible to have a “battle plan” for dealing with colleagues and create a beneficial outcome for all without turning the workplace into a war-zone? Thankfully, yes. With some simple tactics and a shift in perspective, you can turn the tables on difficult colleagues and have more ease among your business relationships.

Don’t doubt yourself or take it personally

A colleague going out of their way to fight you can be very disconcerting. When I first experienced it myself, I couldn’t figure out why it was happening. This person would be nice one moment, and nasty the next. I received accusations of being competitive, copying work, not being as good as I thought I was, or at other times being totally dismissed or ignored. I was confused, and my first thought was wondering what I’d done wrong and what I needed to do to fix it and make it okay.

Then I learned this “mantra”: it’s not personal. I’d been seeing myself as the cause of their actions, but I began to notice that it wasn’t about me at all, so it made sense that my efforts to appease this person weren’t working either. Another hot tip is this: people tend to accuse you of what they are doing, not what you are doing.

So, when I listened to the accusations from my co-worker with impartial ears, it gave me information about what was going on for them: I began to see it was them choosing to compete and feeling less capable at their job. They were attempting to invalidate me so that they could feel better about themselves.

When I stopped taking it personally or trying to see how I was the cause of the problem, I was able to be more aware of the situation as it really was and choose not to get caught up emotionally in their choices and insecurities.

Replace reaction, anger and upset with gratitude

In the face of another’s unkindness, it is easy to react with upset or anger and make judgments: people shouldn’t act this way in a professional situation; it’s wrong; if only they would stop, change, see things from your point of view. Rather than conclude, expect or hope that things should be different – what if you could dispense with all of that and have gratitude instead?

This may seem difficult at first, but every judgment about right or wrong that we make, whether we direct it at ourselves or another person, eliminates our sense of choices and makes us powerless. You can argue, “Well, we should be respectful of one another,” and yes of course, wouldn’t that be nice if everyone did that? But a more pragmatic attitude would be to acknowledge, “Okay, this is what this person is choosing at the moment. What else is possible and what choices do I have I haven’t considered?”

Gratitude and judgement cannot exist next to each other, so gratitude puts you back in charge, with a clearer head and ability to act beyond just reaction. What can you be grateful for about this person and the situation? If you did not view them as a problem, what contribution could they be? What advantages could this situation present you? Every problem has a possibility attached to it, if you are willing to take out the judgment and look for the “silver lining”.

Acknowledge what is different about you

Difficult colleagues are often the ones that have not created or accomplished what you have or do not have the same sense of joy, fun, ease in life and work that you do. They may be attracted to conflict with you precisely because you are different. It’s not the nicest thing to acknowledge, but many people look to the strong, different and unique ones to try and get them down. This may not make sense to you, because you are probably someone who becomes inspired by another person achieving greatness. Not everyone functions this way, and the ones who don’t desire for you to be successful will attempt to bring you down and keep you small, so they can stay comfortable.

If you are finding this hard to see what’s so different about you, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: what is the strength I have that I haven’t acknowledged? What is different about me that I have not been willing to see?

When I started to look closer at what I was that was different to those around me, I realized that I was a lot happier than most people, I had more fun than most people, and I enjoyed my job more than most people. I could find the benefit in every situation, and this was very annoying for my colleague! Recognizing that I was not wrong, just different, was a blessing because I was able to turn things around and instead of being upset, I could just be myself and laugh when others tried to make my life miserable.

Be creative, not combative

When you acknowledge someone’s agenda for making your life difficult, without judging it or feeling the need to fight it, they become quite predictable and easy to read. Be grateful for all the information they give you and use it to your advantage. This may sound manipulative and in truth – it is! Manipulate simply means “to handle in a skillful manner.” Ask, “What does this person need and how do they need to be handled in order to be willing to contribute to with ease?” For example, if you know they love praise from their manager, you could say, “Can you help? The boss was so grateful for you helping him last month.” If you are willing to be creative and deliver what they need to hear, without a point of view, you will be surprised at what can change.


You don’t have to go to war with problematic coworkers to improve things. If you end the battle within you – eliminate judgment, have gratitude, ask questions, be creative and most of all, have fun being you – you will begin to realize that nothing and no one can make you unhappy or stop you from living your life the way you desire.

After completing her social work studies in Vienna, Doris Schachenhofer worked with children, homeless people, delinquent teenagers and prisoners transitioning back into the real world. Today she travels the world teaching and supporting people to be more of themselves. Her Being You classes are delivered in both live and online settings. Follow Doris here and on Instagram.

If you’re one of the nearly 273,000 new mothers that’s taken maternity leave this year, you may understand that returning to work when this leave ends can be difficult. Your priorities will shift from loving and caring for your newborn full time to balancing your life and career. Raising a child is difficult enough, but adding a career into the mix adds another element. Whether you’re choosing to return for the enjoyment you get out of your career or for financial reasons, know that you’re making the right decision for you and your family. Working mothers raise some of the best children.

Work Out the Details

Deciding the best date to return is the first step in the process. If it’s possible for you to return midweek, do so. This way your first week back is short and more manageable. Once you have determined this, you’ll need to communicate with your human resources department and anyone that you report directly to. If they are available for a meeting, this can be a great way to establish the details of your return and what their expectations are. Will you have any limitations? Are there any days that you may need to take off for doctors appointments, childcare conflicts, etc?

It’s important to know if your office provides a private space for you to pump in if you are breastfeeding. Knowing what perks your office has available to new mothers is useful information. For example, if there is a flexible work option, take advantage of it. Being able to leave on a moments notice is helpful for emergencies. If working from home a day or two a week is a viable option for you, this can be a great perk as well.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

It’s normal to experience many different emotions during this transition. Whether it’s a feeling of guilt leaving your baby (which many new working mothers tend to experience), or a bit of nerve returning to your position. These feelings are normal. What’s important is not letting these emotions overwhelm you. Find creative ways to deal with the emotions you’re experiencing. For example, you can bring in photos for your office that might help your desk feel homier. Grab a cup of coffee with another mother in the office who has been through this before. She’ll understand best what you’re going through and can give you her own tips and tricks for adjusting back into your work comfort zone.

Ask for Help

Every mother wants to be the best mom she can be. Thinking that you can do it all isn’t always realistic, however. As much as you may want to be supermom, know that it’s okay to ask for help every once in a while. Having a child is an amazing accomplishment, but it’s also a lot of work. Adding your career into the mix, only makes things more difficult. When you’re feeling stressed out, invite a family member or friend over for a few hours to watch your baby while you get a few chores done or take a peaceful trip to the store by yourself. You’d be surprised how this simple ask can make a big difference to you.

Prepare in Advance

If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 of how prepared you are to go back to work, what would your answer be? Anything less than a 5, you might want to take a few notes from the pros. Mornings can be hectic. Preparing yourself and your family for smoother mornings can make your routine much better. Once you have established the childcare option you’ll be using, become comfortable with them. When hiring a nanny or choosing a daycare center, there is nothing wrong with running background checks, calling references and going with your gut. It’s important to ensure that this will be the best fit for you both. Start childcare a few days before your return to help your baby get comfortable around new people and spending time away from you.

Creating a routine can help everyone in the family. Place a large calendar somewhere in the house that everyone can easily add their schedule to. This will eliminate the chance of someone forgetting an event or an overlap in activities. Picking out outfits the night before or meal prepping early in the week can save you a few hectic minutes each morning. Additionally, taking a practice run of your typical morning routine the week before is a good way to make sure you can get to work and the childcare center on time.

Take Care of Yourself

For a busy working mother, an established self-care routine often goes out the window the moment they return to work. It’s human nature for mothers to place others needs before her own, yet it’s important to take care of yourself. Neglecting to have any simple form of a self-care routine can lead to negative physical and mental side effects. There is a multitude of different shapes that the term “self-care” can take such as:

  • Taking time to figure out the best ways to manage your stress.
  • Partaking in hobbies that you enjoy such as yoga, painting or reading.
  • Finding professional clothes for work that make you feel good, fit well, and are comfortable, like a supportive nursing bra or a cozy new sweater.
  • Spend a day at the spa.

Following these tips and tricks can help make your transition go a little smoother. Things probably won’t be the same as they were before you had a child, but you’ll find your new comfort zone. Working mothers are some of the strongest, most independent and caring people. They deserve our praise.

Giving anything less than positive feedback to anyone at all can be intimidating. Giving feedback to a boss is another story entirely; naturally it feels risky. Nobody wants to jeopardise their position or damage working relationships – if they can help it.

However, there are times when it becomes necessary to give feedback to your boss. Perhaps your boss has requested it, in which case there’s no getting out of it. It might be that your situation has become so uncomfortable that you’ll want to leave unless change happens.

Regardless of the reason for your constructive feedback, how you deliver that feedback is everything. The below feedback methods will bring about the best possible outcome:

Consider the reasons for the feedback

Are you feeding back for your own reasons, or has your boss asked for this feedback? Dependent on the circumstances, the conversation may happen quite differently. If your boss has asked for feedback, there is probably a specific reason for that. Perhaps your boss wants to know how all employees feel about their management of a certain project.

In this case, it’s not a good time to impart all of your concerns about their timekeeping or moods. If those things are a real issue for you, a separate meeting at a later date may be required. Find out the reasons for the feedback request and ask for specific areas to feedback on. Then address those areas carefully using the methods coming up below.

If the feedback is something you’re giving for personal reasons, remember that your boss isn’t going to be expecting this. Unless they have the skin of a rhino, the chances are your feedback could put them on the back foot. The main difference is that when your boss asks for feedback, they’re expecting something specific; they may also be better prepared to receive your opinions.

Consider the validity of what you’re saying

This requires self-honesty. Do you have a genuinely good reason for giving your boss this feedback? If you dig deep and find that truthfully, it’s a personality clash and you just have quite different ways of approaching situations, it might not be worth saying anything.

Your feedback may come across as a character assassination, which won’t do wonders for your working relationship, whatever state it is currently in. However, if you feel that your boss is making poor decisions to the detriment of your project or company, you probably have a duty to discuss it.

It’s important to remember that your boss is in this role because of their skills, experience and qualifications. Although they may be doing things differently than you would, they got the job. It helps to keep this in mind, as it’s quite possible that they know things you don’t. If you don’t have the full picture, you may be joining the dots incorrectly.

Stick to what’s most important

If you have decided that your reasons for feedback are worthy, it’s time to decide on which things you’re going to talk about. You may have a list of ten different things that you don’t like about your boss’ behaviour or approach. Know that bringing too many issues to the table at once is a bad idea.

Landing a large number of issues on somebody in one hit is probably going to wind them. You may find that they stop listening after the first three points, rejecting the most important points because they feel you’ve come at them with a laundry list of errors they’ve made.

Boil your issues down to the most crucial points. What is causing the most discomfort or disharmony for you or your team? Which things have had the most negative impact on your role or project? Avoid anything that may come across as ‘niggly’ or petty. Prioritising carefully is crucial to the success of your conversation.

Prepare for your meeting

Once you’ve decided on the most crucial points you want to discuss, write them down in a bulleted list of points you want to make. Improvising is a bad idea; your emotions might start to drive the conversation, or you might forget crucial points if your boss distracts you with their responses.

It’s easy to feel that you know exactly what you want to say, but when challenged or faced with an emotional response, you may be caught off guard. Make sure your notes only include what you decided was most important and don’t deviate from that.

At the top of your notes, prepare a little positive feedback to start with. Nobody enjoys being criticized, so it always helps to let your boss know what you appreciate about them before you go into the issues. This way they will be more receptive to what they can do better.

Stick to the facts

It’s imperative to offer observations, facts, and examples. Dumping your feelings and opinions on someone without rational explanation behind them won’t garner much understanding – it will feel like a rant.

Let’s imagine your boss somehow undermined you with a client you were making good progress with. Your client was about to sign a deal, and pulled out after your boss’ input. Prepare the evidence that your client was ready to sign, and any communications that demonstrate the reasons for their change of heart.

You may be upset about this, with reason, but telling your boss that they “always undermine you”, “never consider your efforts”, etc. is not going to get you far. Inquiring rather than accusing makes a world of difference. You may genuinely feel upset, but your boss needs to see what it is they’ve actually done to cause it.

Be positive, respectful and compassionate

Let your boss know that you appreciate the opportunity to discuss your thoughts. When you deliver your perspective in a considerate way, your boss won’t feel defensive. If you come across as caring for not only your own role and wellbeing, but also that of your boss and the company as a whole, they’ll be more receptive.

When you deliver one of your points and back it up with evidence, give them a chance to respond. Listen to what they have to say and show understanding for their perspective. Remember that your boss is your boss for a reason, and it won’t help to undermine their authority.

Keep in mind that your boss wasn’t going out of their way to upset you – they were probably unaware of the effect they were having. It could be that your boss was having personal issues that impacted their performance or decision-making.

Lastly, allow for some processing time. Your boss may come back to you later with deeper understanding. People need time to process criticism; it’s often hard to take and needs some consideration before they can see it from your point of view. Be open to (and encourage) reciprocation, as there may be some constructive feedback you could benefit from too.

Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler.com.au — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.

Having held a multitude of different jobs, ranging from translator and language teacher, to massage therapist, fitness instructor and coach, I often found myself in workplaces and under working conditions that made me vow I would never do these jobs again.

Today I am – among other things – a Joy of Business facilitator, which has helped me combine all my aforementioned skills and allowed me to have a sense of fulfillment and more fun than ever.

Get clarity about what are you missing in your job, which factors account for unhappiness and which of these depend on you and which depend on others. In the situations where you cannot change other people’s behaviour, look at what you can change in your attitude that might make a difference.

Here are a few suggestions on how to be happier in the job you have.

Finding emotional happiness

Are you having expectations of your job that should be reserved for other areas in your life?

For instance, I found myself expecting my colleagues to behave like family or friends, and would subconsciously be very concerned about our emotional interactions. As soon as I realised I was doing this, life became much easier as I readjusted my expectations to an appropriate and healthy level.

Where are you having expectations of your job that are not truly job-related?

Do you not get the recognition you think you deserve?

This used to be a big issue for me, because even when I was being praised I felt that now I was under pressure to always provide at least a 100% performance, or that I wasn’t being praised for the right things.

I suggest making a habit of mentally “patting yourself on the back” for anything you have accomplished and really acknowledging yourself, as you are the only one who knows what your small and big accomplishments and victories are.

Do you feel you are not being seen as a human being?

Acknowledge the contribution you are to the company and your colleagues, not only professionally, but as a human being. Realise that you do have a choice around how you show up and figure out how to bring more of the ‘real you’ to work so you feel comfortable and fulfilled in the workplace.

What energy can you bring into the workplace that would make it more enjoyable for not just your colleagues, but yourself too?

Are you overly affected when your colleagues are in a bad mood?

Don’t go into trying to “fix it“ and realise that whatever is going on for them, it has nothing to do with you.

If you choose to remain unaffected by other people’s mood swings and just let the emotional intensity go through, and past you, while still being open and friendly (as you would with a child throwing a tantrum),they might be able to see a different perspective as well.

Does the general workplace atmosphere get you down?

Identify what you don’t like about your work or workplace and brainstorm ways to make the experience a better one. It could be suggesting a weekly lunch with co-workers or a physical space for meditation in the office. Whatever your ideas are, speak up and suggest it. Even if they don’t accept or actualise your idea as is, it could open up new possibilities.

Finding happiness in your tasks

Do you find yourself procrastinating when it comes to tasks you don’t like?

How about trying a simple trick: If you have to do some less-than-favourite tasks, first think of something you really love doing. And then apply that energy to the task at hand. Be curious. Ask yourself: How can I do this so it would be fun for me?

Do you feel overwhelmed and under constant stress to perform to a deadline?

As a translator I am very familiar with this and have found the following tweaks get me out of the rut. As far as your schedule allows it, see which tasks feel easiest to do at any given moment, and start with these. This gets you into an “easy mode” which you can maintain while gradually increasing the complexity level, and soon you will find yourself doing the things you had considered less easy, with more ease. Also, accomplishing tasks well before the deadline (even small ones) can give you a sense of space and relief, whenever possible.

Finding happiness generally

Be grateful

It may sound old, but counting your blessings is the first step to get you back in a positive vein. First of all – being unhappy in our job means you do have a job to begin with.

Find 5 things, every night, you are grateful for about your job. Open yourself up to what you like about your job and figure out if there is a way to do more of that and less of what you don’t. Then, realise that you DO have a choice – if all the signs are for you to find a new job, start looking for a new one, while still being grateful for your current job to set the course for a fresh start.

Find something you love doing outside of work that is fun and easy to do

Find hobbies or activities that you love doing so much, you could spend all day doing them. Bring that energy to your workplace and look where you can make even small changes to brighten up your day.


To sum it up – begin to realise you are not a victim to your circumstances or a robot, but a multifaceted personality that can bring a different spark to any work environment. Do more of what you love, in and outside of work – and learn to love what you do.

What would it take for you to tune into your “happy vibe” more and more often until it becomes a new habit?

Corinna Kaebel is a professional interpreter, communicator, coach and mentor. Being fluent in English, German and Russian allows her to travel the globe extensively to teach, coach and interpret. Corinna loves being on the road, exploring new places and working with people from all different cultures and backgrounds. Her number one goal is to inspire, support and help people to show up with more of themselves intact and to navigate their own life journey with more ease, grace and glory. Corinna is a Joy of Business facilitator, a specialty program from personal development organisation Access Consciousness.

Have you ever seen a successful person cast with a spell over them? The glitz and the glamour, spewing glitter from every orifice. How did you feel?

Let me introduce you to pleasure derived from some else’s misfortune –schadenfreude. Did you know that envy is registered in the mind like a real feeling of bodily pain? On the other hand, schadenfreude induces a pleasant euphoric state akin to a low-grade orgasm. Why am I sharing this? Because no one is talking about it. People may know it, may be familiar with it, however many do not confront, deal or embrace it. May be it’s time to unplug and make sure that you aren’t getting off at someone else’s expense.

Bruna Martinuzzi, author of The Green-Eyed Monster, states that envy is one of the disruptive emotions that affects our corporate environments. The “I want what you have” mentality. When we delve deeper into the fundamental factors that underpin envy, making comparisons rears its ugly head.

Throughout childhood we are introduced to the natural human impulse to measure ourselves against what others do and what they have. We drag a bag behind us stuffed with parts of ourselves that are not acceptable to families and friends, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out. Early messages about success, power and vulnerability are infused in our thinking, and our judging mind generates feelings of envy.

There was a time when envy served a purpose in helping us to keep alive. Today, envy is no longer geared toward our survival. However, when we perceive that we are being disadvantaged our survival instincts kick in. Think Fear of Missing Out, or not being invited to a business meeting. We begin to create stories about how we were overlooked and how unfair the decision was. Our sense of inferiority magnifies and our brain registers envy as pain.

Envy is woven within the fabric of our organisations and the ripples are crippling. It affects employee moods, morale, culture, and leads to employee disengagement and loss of productivity. It manifests at work through teams competing for resources and individuals seeking external validation.

Within your organisation, when hiring new high achievers within a team, have you observed long-term employees feeling like the newest additions get preferential treatment? Even though you treat everyone equally, this perception creates water cooler talk that you value the newcomers more, giving them more support and opportunities to shine.

Irrespective of title, people within organisations also play a role in poking the green monster. Check yourself: Do you constantly name drop, brag about your connections with high profile influencers, or shoot down potential ideas as no one can’t outsmart you?

It is impossible to eradicate envy from a workplace. However, leaders can create environments that minimise appearances from the green-eyed monster. Here’s how you can neutralise envy in the workplace.

Open and honest communication within the organization

Encouraging transparent communication and open expression of views creates a space where safety and trust is built. It allows opportunities to prevent envious feelings generating. Nipping envy in the bud eliminates the culmination of negativity before it reaches a critical mass.

Antidote to envy

Once you have confirmed that a leader has been bitten by envy, notice the unwritten rules that appear. “Tell her what she wants to hear to keep the peace and keep your job”. “Don’t rock the boat”. “If you want your idea to be embraced, make it look like his (or hers)”. When our culture is infested with these conclusions it is the start of productivity and performance decline. Gratitude for the privilege of leading others is the antidote to reverse any envy towards another human being.

Let go of bitterness

An ability to say “thank you” is the first step of forgiveness which opens the door of gratitude. Forgiveness is an opportunity to let go of the bitterness that envy breeds. It creates a process of resolution where a perceived wrong may have occurred. When we allow ourselves to experience empathy and compassion it nourishes our soul and enables us to let go. When we choose to better ourselves, humankind improves.

Managing your own envy

Envy can destroy relationships, impede your career and erode your soul. The minute we notice that envy is present, and can name it, we have disrupted its strong pull. Self-awareness creates an opportunity to identify what triggers your envy of others. When a situation arises, examine the context and explore your feelings attached to the situation. Invest your energy into seeing how far you have grown and what areas you need to strengthen.

Advantages of envy

Workplaces can strive to make their culture the envy of their competitors. Create a thriving workplace where key talent is energised and retained for long term success. When you lead by example, consistently take action and focus on tangible results and outcomes whilst nurturing and challenging people, you will establish an enviable workplace culture. People want to live in a culture where they love their jobs, where they feel connected to the vision, and both people and business.

Within the workplace, you may use your envy of a colleague’s promotion as a catalyst for change and inspiration to expand your own knowledge, learning and personal toolbox to create future opportunities. On a deeper level, envy may be the illusion of an unfulfilled need and when we unveil the illusion, a road map of possibilities is the centrepiece.

Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business. She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.

I was headed for my standing appointment with my OB. Super exciting, I know. As I hopped in the elevator, two women joined me right before the doors slid shut. Cue the awkward silence, the nervous clearing of throats, and the eye-contact-avoidance-at-all-costs we all know so well.

Except not.

As the ladies entered, I looked at them and smiled. They smiled back. “Whew, just made it in!” said Lady #1. I laughed and said “Those doors sure close fast, don’t they!? You have to be a sprinter to make it!”

The joking went back and forth for a few moments before the doors hissed open. “Have a great day!” I called as I exited, and a hearty “you too!” was delivered in return. With a smile, I strolled into the waiting room, ready to have my lady bits thoroughly examined. #ladylife

Now, I heard what you’re thinking. “Ok, cool story. But what does this have to do with me and my career?”

OMG, I’m so glad you asked.

Why The Elevator

When I was headed to the OB, I could have just kept to myself, silent in the elevator corner, then bolted as soon as the doors opened. Instead, I chose to step out of my own little world and engage with someone else.

Genuine human interaction is crucial to your career. You and your brand can’t thrive on your own, you need others to believe in you, champion you, and share it with everyone they know. Connecting with others is a skill worthy of daily practice, and the elevator created the perfect place for me to do it.

Here are a few reasons why you need to make the elevator your new BFF.

It’s a melting pot.

The elevator is one of the most interesting petri dishes of society. It puts you in contact with a huge variety of people, many of whom you’d never normally interact with.

What do the rich and poor, CEOs and interns, entrepreneur newbs and mega investors all have in common? They all ride elevators.

For a bizarrely magical minute in time, worlds collide in a peculiar metal box. It’s the best learning opportunity for human interaction ever, and you can harness that power into something that makes you (and your career) unstoppable.

As an entrepreneur, you need to boldly take risks, know who you are and what you have to offer. Your success requires you to build a tribe of people who champion you and your brand. The only way to do that is by building connections, and the only way to do that is by talking to people.

Being able to chat with new people in a relaxed, genuine way is the gateway to growing your tribe wherever you go.

You never know who you’ll wind up sitting (or standing) next to and what role they might play in your amazing story. Don’t miss out on it!

It’s the perfect place to practice.

When you’re working on a new skill, overthinking is your worst enemy, but the elevator provides a great antidote to that. Because you’re only in an elevator for a few moments, you don’t have time to think, you just have to go for it!

Use your elevator time to practice connecting with strangers. Conquering your fear of making the first move will not only give you killer confidence, it will score you a mega advantage over other connection-seekers. If you’re not afraid to initiate, you’ll quickly gather the big players into your circle while the timid wannapreneurs hang back and watch.

As soon as you (or they) enter the elevator, make your first move. The longer you wait the more awkward it becomes, so don’t wait!!

One of my favorite strategies to use is The Compliment Intro. It’s fantastic at breaking the ice and creating an instant “buddy zone” vibe. Using a compliment to spark a convo is one of the easiest and least threatening tricks. Who doesn’t like a compliment?!

“I really love your shoes! Where did you find them?”

“Your handbag is amazing, it looks like it would go with anything, does it?”

“I just have to ask: your hairdo is flawless, how do you do that?”

Once you’ve got their attention with your opener, do your best to engage them while putting them at ease. It doesn’t have to be more than a few comments back and forth (that’s all you have time for anyway).

When you praise someone, even for a small, seemingly inconsequential thing, the vibe becomes lighter and less intimidating. This fosters a connection that couldn’t have existed before, and if you get to that point, you’ve reached your goal. Plus, complimenting someone not only boosts their self esteem, it builds up your confidence at the same time! You become bolder and more sure of yourself, and that’s a win-win.

A compliment isn’t the only way to start a convo. Maybe you bond over both barely making it inside before the elevator doors closed. Maybe you make an observation about your mutual surroundings. Are you both are wearing skirts? Perfect time to say, “Skirt Day! Looks like we both got the memo! *laugh*”

There are a million ways to start an interaction, so don’t be afraid to try something that’s genuine to you. It doesn’t have to be complicated or scripted out, but interacting in and with your environment can be a powerful connector.

Yeah, it feels weird at first, but here’s why that shouldn’t freak you out…

It’s a zero-risk zone.

Here’s the thing. Practicing a new skill is always a little awkward because you’re not a pro yet. Don’t even stress about it – the elevator is the perfect place to try out your new moves!

The people who enter elevators are, for the most part, total strangers. 99% of the time, you’ll never see that person again in your life, so there’s no reason to sweat about practicing on them. If something doesn’t work or falls flat, let it go and try something new next time. Think of the elevator as your own personal laboratory.

Reminder: While it may not seem like it at first thought, often times it’s actually less awkward to acknowledge someone’s presence in some way than it is to just stand there silently.

A great skill to hone in the elevator is reading people’s body language. Pay attention to how people physically react when you try new things. When you say X, do they seem to react positively or negatively? How about when you say Y? Use that feedback to shape how you interact and what phrases or openers you try in the future. Don’t get discouraged though, it’s a learning process!

Being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks, but this is a perfect time to sharpen your skills without having to risk anything. Even if you do mess up, the doors will open and the person will leave, giving you a clean slate. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from growing and succeeding!

What have you got to lose? (Spoiler alert: Nothing.)

Going Up…

Your ability to form genuine relationships will make or break your career dreams, and being able to break the ice and connect with new people is the first step in sharpening that skill.

Regularly interacting with new people not only strengthens your relationship-building skills, it rapidly grows your network as well. As an entrepreneur, your brand depends on others championing and sharing your work, so solid connections are key players in your success story!

Using the elevator as a safe place to grow and learn will pay off big time. If you’re not afraid to approach people, make them feel valued and included, and confidently be yourself, there is literally nothing standing between you and success.

Save the workout for the gym. Embrace the elevator.

Hannah Brooks is a networking relationship coach and founder of The Leading Lady, empowering ambitious female entrepreneurs to grow killer networks and thriving careers through the power of genuine relationships. She’s also a laughter addict, foodie, and lover of community. In her spare time, she trots the globe with her husband and son, and has a slight obsession with chocolate milk.

Need more help harnessing the power of small talk? You can download her FREE 36-page guide: “The Female Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide to Small Talk” and start building genuine relationships, killer connections, and a thriving career!