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10 ways to be a better psychology colleague

There's more to being a good co-worker than treating everyone in the office to cakes or showing off your coffee-making skills. We've put together our top ten tips for psychologists. If you're in any kind of psychology position, you're probably better placed than most people to understand the social dynamics of the workplace. That being said, in a busy working environment it's easy to forget some of the fundamentals of being a good colleague. So, here are just a few suggestions...

1. Be a team player

Whether you're a clinical psychologist or you're working in a specialist area such as CAMHS, you're part of a team. Therefore, it's vital to understand how your role fits into the overall scheme of things and how your actions impact on the work of other team members.

2. Be open-minded

Listening and learning are key skills for a psychologist, so make sure you apply those skills to your colleagues as well as your patients. Sharing ideas and experiences, and learning from them, is an important part of continuing professional development.

3. Use self-analysis

As a psychologist, you obviously spend a lot of time getting to know your patients. But how well do you know yourself? Being aware of your own strengths, weaknesses and motivations will help you relate to your co-workers and understand their perceptions of you.

4. Communicate well

Psychology jobs can be challenging and there's a temptation to internalise your responses. Sharing with colleagues in an open, honest way can be a positive experience and help you process your thoughts, as well as showing them that you value their professional input.

5. Be objective

This is probably something that psychologists don't need to be told. However, it's always worth reiterating: don't let personal feelings and attitudes impact negatively on your working relationships.

6. Don't be a 'soft touch'

It's good to be liked by your colleagues, but you won't win their respect if you're too eager to please. Don't be afraid to say 'no', politely but firmly.

7. Don't be partisan

It's natural to feel a strong affinity with one or more of your colleagues, but showing favouritism can make others feel undervalued and encourage rivalries.

8. Listen out for negativity

If you're a senior psychologist or a team leader, it's important to discourage gossip amongst junior colleagues. It erodes trust and could seriously impact on the performance of your team.

9. Be sensitive

Having a positive attitude is generally a good thing. But remember, many of your colleagues will be dealing with challenging cases, so you need also to be sensitive to their feelings. They may not feel in the mood for jokes or light-hearted banter.

10. What about those cakes?

OK, we have to admit it. Bringing in some treats to share every so often will go down well.
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