One bad apple can disrupt a work environment and wreak havoc on communication, trust, and collegial relationships -- not to mention productivity. Protecting your team with a "No Jerks" hiring policy is smart and goes a long way to cultivating and preserving a harmonious and high functioning workplace.
As a cross-cultural strategist, I predominantly work with multinational corporations, providing their global teams with tools and training to help them optimize the collaboration they must have across cultures. While some of what I do lies in cross-cultural awareness, a large part of my job is dedicated to helping develop employee and leadership courage.
Whether it is social anxiety, or not knowing how to correctly read other people, there are ways that we can learn and push ourselves that can greatly benefit our interactions with other people. If we can improve these interactions, we can further our social life, our work life, and our relationships.
A very important part of improv is listening. I was reminded of this a while ago when my second child was only two years old. He was being fussy while I was changing his diaper. I asked him, “Is it hard being a little kid sometimes?” He said, “Yeah.” I asked, “What’s hard about being a little kid?” What he said stopped me in my tracks.
This idea of hearing what other people say is brilliant. I wish I had come up with it myself. On my final day in the cruise ship diner I pointed to the menu and asked if I could have the roller skate salad with a rubber squeegee on the side. My waiter gave me a big smile. "Yes." That was nice. This time I smiled back. I'm still waiting.