by Lora Doncea
In our work, we encounter a wide variety of people with diverse personalities. The ability to work with different types of people well is an extremely valuable skill. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years.
The most important thing is to sincerely ask God to help you with every project. He knows what both you and your client need and the best way for you to work together. He will give you success whenever you rely on Him.
There are practical steps to take after that.
If you have established a good rapport with someone, don’t assume they will continue to respond to you in the same way. I’ve worked with people for years, completely confident in our interactions and friendship. Then, out of the blue, they abruptly changed their attitude toward me—acting defensive or disregarding my edits. It perplexed me. After working through the misunderstandings, we eventually worked things out, but now I approach familiar people with the perspective that we are all changing constantly. We need to be flexible to accept changes and smoothly make adjustments. (Then that same grace will be extended to us when we need it.)
When working with someone new, it is beneficial to find out everything you can about their experience, writing style, and personality. Any clues you can gather will help you figure out how to develop a good rapport. Always be respectful. Even if they are a challenge to work with and you’re ranting to your spouse or pet about your frustration, don’t let it leak into your edits or communication. Be professional and kind. As you get to know someone, add funny comments or smiley faces to your edits. Suggest fun ways to remember how to avoid repeated errors. An editor often finds it rewarding to slash and change and rearrange someone’s work—but it’s not fun for the recipient. No one likes to be scolded. Find creative and gentle ways to correct others. You want people to enjoy working with you.
We’ve all had to work with a person who is extremely difficult, and nothing we do improves the situation. In that case, know when to cut bait. Finish your contract, forgive them in your heart, then kindly refuse to work with them again. The stress that builds inside of you can leak negativity in every area of your life. You want to enjoy your work and your life. Ask God to provide you with more compatible people to work with. If you are forced to work with a challenging person, the best thing to do is continue to be respectful, professional, and kind. You will maintain your personal integrity, and God will reward you.
In life we’ll work with an endless variety of people. Professionals use godly wisdom to make each relationship as beneficial and enjoyable as possible. Thinking of the people you work with now, what steps can you take to make things even better?
Lora thoroughly enjoys editing fiction and nonfiction books for Christian authors. She views editing as a ministry first, partnering with authors to make their writing polished and successful. She also writes a blog of “Savvy Writer Tips” to help writers spot and fix common problems. Read them on her website: EditsbyLora.com or on Facebook: SavvyWriterTips. Lora utilizes her varied life experiences to help her when editing. She’s been a recorded Christian musician, a computer and web programmer in the business world, taught college courses on computers, led Bible studies, spent years oil painting and doing photography and videography, traveled, lived in big cities and small mountain communities, and loves to learn and experience new things.
Dear Lora, Thanking you more than I can say. I am editing the dissertation of someone with whom my husband grew up years ago. He actually is a local pastor. He is not treating me correctly, respectfully, or fairly, but this relationship must be kept intact. This has nothing whatever to do with money or compensation. He really needs help, and I think God put us together recently because he was really having trouble and just found out that I even edited dissertations and theses. This is probably almost the most trouble I have experienced with a client since 1993, when I started freelance editing. I am praying my way through this situation. I need to keep my head, as you have described. I really needed to read this today. Your words are from God to me. Thank you, once again, for your timeliness. This pastor really wants and needs his doctorate. I have been depressed about this.
Marilyn A. Anderson
I understand the stress and frustration you are experiencing, and yes–even the depression. Continue doing your best as working for the Lord. He will help you, strengthen you, and reward you. I promise. I am praying for you!
Great insight. Thank you!