Is being ‘easy to work with’ always a good thing?

Whether you are employed or self-employed the chances are that at some point during your working life someone will have told you that you are easy to work with. Perhaps it was a client for whom you were providing a service or maybe it was a work colleague who you had to team up with on a task. Whatever the circumstances were, it’s nice when someone says that, isn’t it? At times though, as much as I like to be a good person to work with, when I hear those words they do make me wonder if I’m being a little too easy to work with.

Are you easy to work with or a pushover?

Whether we are in a work environment or just general day to day life, we all have opinions. Some people may naturally be more forceful or confident in their expression of those opinions, but we all have them. If you are a shy and timid person or you are considered to be ‘easy going’ then you will more than likely also be considered as someone who is easy to work with. The only problem with this comes when you are working with or perhaps negotiating with someone who is a naturally strong and demanding person. In this situation, your kind and reasonable nature could quite easily lead to you being walked all over. Here are a couple of situations where that could happen.

In the work environment

Let’s say you have been teamed together with a fellow employee to complete some kind of work task. You both have completely different opinions as to how something should be done but your colleague is a lot more vocal than you are and as a result he/she tends to always get their way. In this circumstance being ‘easy to work with’ can actually prove to be a huge issue as your ideas will likely not get listened to or implemented, even though they may be better than your colleagues. If your colleague’s ideas are successful then – as they have a naturally vocal personality – they will likely ensure that they receive all of the credit for those ideas. If their ideas turn to failure though, you can be sure that most of the blame will somehow be shifted onto you for either lacking in ideas or for not being more vocal about your ideas. or in essence being more ‘difficult to work with’.

When negotiating

Have you ever been in a negotiating situation and afterwards been told that you were ‘very easy to deal with’? Again it is nice to be told that as I like to be able to maintain good business relationships. On occasion though, this phrase can send alarm bells ringing in my head, why? Well it usually happens when I realise that I haven’t really gotten all of the things that I wanted from the deal, yet the other party seems to have everything that they wanted. Yes I’ve been ‘easy to deal with’ but if I’d have been a little more ‘difficult’ then I probably would have gotten a better deal. True, it might not have made for a pleasurable negotiating experience and there may have been a few awkward moments but in the end it would have been worth it.

It’s all about balance I suppose

I know that some people might disagree with me here and may think that you should always get your own way – as it’s the best way :-) – but personally I’d like to think that balance is key. As much as I don’t like to be a difficult person to work or negotiate with, I also don’t want to be the kind of person that gets ignored, walked all over or taken for a ride. I feel like I’m going off on a bit of a tangent now but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that if someone tells you that you can be quite difficult to work or deal with, it’s not always such a bad thing to hear. On the flip side, if you find that everyone is always telling you how easy you are to work with, yet your opinions and ideas never seem to get heard or you never seem to get the deal you want, perhaps it’s time you became a little more ‘difficult’.

Can you think of situation where you wish you’d have been a little more ‘difficult’?

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32 Responses to Is being ‘easy to work with’ always a good thing?

  1. My rule in negotiations has always been that both parties should walk away a little unhappy. If that isn’t the case, you were probably a little to easy to work with. I found this to be a problem early in my career. Not so much now as I’ve gained some age and a few gray hairs.
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  2. I used to be the pushover type of “easy to work with” person, and it’s not a good thing. “Easy to pile all of the extra work on” was a more appropriate title,and it just left me feeling resentful but afraid to talk about it. It’s great to be easy to work with, as long as you’re still standing your ground for fair treatment. Great article, Adam!
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    • Adam Buller says:

      Employers to have a tendency to do that don’t they Laurie. They never seem to look at someone and think ‘maybe they have enough on their plate now’. You’re right, if you don’t stand up for yourself a bit and be willing to speak your mind then they’ll just keep taking until you burnout.

  3. Kathy says:

    I was definitely a pushover and it wasn’t fun. I’d always go the extra step to keep things smoothly running and watched as those who rocked the boat usually got what they wanted. My only revenge is that many of those people are still working and I’ve been retired for over 8 years and loving every minute of it.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Sounds like you had the last laugh Kathy. It’s true that those who care about how things are running tend to end up shouldering most of the responsibility without always seeing the just rewards. At least you can look back now though and be proud of the type of worker you were.

  4. I think most people think I’m a pushover, and to some extent its true. I tend not to get worked up about stuff, until that stuff becomes BIG stuff, and then you do not want to cross me. A couple of people have found out the hard way….
    Retired by 40 recently posted..My Disagreement with Dave Ramsey – Part 1My Profile

    • Adam Buller says:

      I think I can be a bit that way, less so as I’m getting older though. I’ve found it better to just speak my mind a little more as I go rather than exploding when 6 months of frustration come to a head. It’s something I have to force myself to do though as by nature I’d rather just keep the peace.

  5. I’ve been the “easy to work with” person and the “difficult to work with” person. Of the two, I like the easy to work with better. When I try to morph out of my personality and get a little more aggressive, it feels awkward and it comes across as just me being angry. We all have a unique personality and should hold true to that in most circumstances.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..5 Coping Strategies For When the Busyness of Life Causes the Dam to BreakMy Profile

    • Adam Buller says:

      I do agree that we’re all different and that is a good thing, but I also don’t see the harm in learning to have a bit of a stronger voice if you always seem to be getting the raw end of a deal or you are never being given the opportunity to express your ideas or concerns. It sounds like you might be quite naturally strong in your thoughts and opinions Brian and perhaps people pick up on that and respect you for it, the strong and silent type. Other people might need to learn those qualities though if they are ever going to get what they want from a situation. It’s a tough balance to strike though as like you say, you don’t want to come across as an aggressive person.

  6. There’s a difference between being easy to deal with and being a pushover. I’ve never been the difficult person to deal with – I’m always willing to meet the other side in the middle….and in return others are willing to do the same!
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    • Adam Buller says:

      I’d like to think that I’m the same way Brock. The problem I’ve found is that sometimes you come across people in life who are not quite so reasonable as you and I. When you come across these people, I feel you have to learn to be firm to make sure you get a fair deal.

  7. Alex says:

    In my experience people who are difficult to work with can grow tiresome. A team is built on an array of different viewpoints but making your own somehow more important only means you fail to understand the whole picture. On the side of things difficult people can generally just be rude and aggressive, whilst a true leader involves everyone in a task and doesn’t let a weakest member get walked over.
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  8. I was told by a former boss that I was ‘low maintenance’. He meant it as a compliment but it made me think twice about how amenable I was – I agree that being too agreeable at work doesn’t always work to your advantage. The old saying ‘it is better to be feared than liked’ may have some truth to it?
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  9. Taylor says:

    I agree that it’s a learning experience. Understanding a balance between easy going and assertive comes with practice. In my first work experiences I was really “easy to work with” and I felt taken advantage of in the work place. At my tipping point I exploded not handling the situation in the best way. Now I can avoid that by making my voice heard along the way.
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    • Adam Buller says:

      It really is a fine balance Taylor but one that can be really useful in life if you can get it right. And I agree, if something really needs to be said then it’s better to just tactfully make your point as you go along.

  10. Easy to work with is a good thing. But I prefer it must be difficult. Because if that so, you are being challenged, and you have to struggle for success. Aside from that, you can learn a lot.

  11. Its very important to be easy to work with, provided being easy to work with doesnt mean your a pushover/walkover/sucker
    Smiles, jokes, remembering birthdates and events
    Covering for someone occaisionlly etc
    Nice but firm – I would never want to be someones bunny
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  12. I’d like to think I’m easy to work with but I also like to play by the rules. I don’t get involved with people’s personal business but I do like to have a good laugh. My wife on the other hand she is the one who may be a bit more difficult to deal with because she does want to make sure she gets what she wants. It’s a learning experience that’s for sure.Excellent post.
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Can lending money ruin friendships?My Profile

    • Adam Buller says:

      Thanks Mr. CBB. I’d like to think I’m the firmer of the two in my household but I think I’d be kidding myself, my wife definitely has my number ;-)

  13. I think there’s definitely a difference between being easy to work with and being a pushover. It’s finding the balance that can be a challenge. I want to be respected for the things I’m firm on, but also be recommended as a good person to work with.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted..Budget Travel: 4 Days in AmsterdamMy Profile

  14. There is definitely a healthy balance between having good social skills and being “hard to work with”. You should stand your ground; however, some people are just bad at dealing with others.

    I think people should learn how to work well with others, while not getting walked all over.

    Good post!
    Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog recently posted..How to Choose Specific Index Funds for Retirement Based on Your AgeMy Profile

    • Adam Buller says:

      Totally agree with your take on it Kalen. Since I wrote this post I keep seeing situations pop up on television programs, some highlighting times when people really should have voiced their ideas or concerns more strongly and others where people are just being a nightmare to work with and completely unreasonable. It’s a fine balance but an important one.

  15. Its definitely a fine line between being easy to work with and a pushover. I think someone with a good balance can speak up and give quality input, but can adequately take components from the best ideas and work them together in a reasonable manner. In that sense, you are easy to work with because you can compose something that adequately combines all input.
    The Wallet Doctor recently posted..How to reduce your food costsMy Profile

    • Adam Buller says:

      I agree it’s very important to take other people’s ideas on board. In a perfect world I suppose that all voices would be heard and an amalgamation of ideas would be the result. Sadly that doesn’t always happen though and I feel that at times you have to be able to stand your ground.

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