Some people are cool, calm and collected and never seem to let the stress of other people or a negative environment influence their feelings or behaviour. They are masters of their own responses. They say “Wow, that person is in a bad mood” instead of “Shit, what did I do to annoy them?”.

I wish I were one of those people. Unfortunately I never have been. Possibly like a lot of other people out there. Many of us absorb the emotions of those around us and sometimes it can be a struggle to rise above it and keep smiling. Even if objectively, you know it’s not about you.

The dynamics of the teams you work with on a daily basis, have a huge impact on your work life generally. Within every company, no matter how small, or how strong the culture, there are mini-ecosystems which vary widely. Two people can sit side by side in the same physical space, but have completely different experiences of what it’s like to work there.

Some of these teams function better than others. They can be teams of people who have been together a long time and have learned to work seamlessly like a well oiled machine. Or teams newly thrown together, for a pitch or project, where everything clicks and inspiration sparks.

What’s constant is that everybody works to the best of their ability, when they are happy at work. Happiness increases productivity and creativity. And being happy at work is usually as simple as liking and respecting the people you work with, and them liking and respecting you back. It’s about being in the right team.

There’s a good reason why so many of the most successful businesses are founded on a company of friends. Facebook, founded by college friends Larry and Sergey. Apple, founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Innocent founded by three Cambridge graduates Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright.  At an RKCR planning session this year, Jon Steel told us anecdote of a pitch they won on the basis of the client’s perception of internal relationships. The client said the management team in the competitor agency had so clearly hated each other, it was obvious even in the pitch presentation. Whereas Jon and his colleagues seemed to genuinely enjoy working together, and that’s a much more appealing team to join.

Chemistry matters. When it’s wrong, the work and the people will usually suffer. When it’s right, each individual team member thrives and their collective output flourishes. You can’t force chemistry though, you can only find it. So the trick is to look for it, recognise it and try to spend most of your time working with the people you have it with.

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