Think before you send that angry email, and other tips for being a better coworker
By Christina Ellis
What is the importance of being a great coworker? Isn’t it best just to worry about myself and where I am on the corporate ladder? The answer may be surprising to some but building great relationships at work will help you in your career financially, physically and emotionally! Here’s why.
First, your workday will be a lot more pleasant if you’re surrounded by people you respect and enjoy working with every day.
Second, your colleagues are the best people to write recommendations or spread the word about your abilities. Likeability is one key factor in your success and you never know if you need to rely on one of them to vouch for your work ethic or confirm your capabilities.
Of course, you might not love all of your colleagues and that’s ok. But it is very important to respect them for their role and value they bring to your place of employment. Some will make that very hard to do but reciprocated negativity and hostility will make your every day at work miserable for you and cast a bad light on you in your boss’s eyes.
The good news? You can build strong working relationships through mutual respect. If you lead by example, others will follow (some may take longer than others)!
These are some ways to spread a little sunshine to your colleagues:
BE A TEAM PLAYER!!!
If you notice someone in need of help, take the initiative without needing to be asked to lend a helping hand. Most often there is competition between coworkers and so people are hesitant to help out in fear that helping a co-worker will distract them from their own productivity or boost their co-workers career instead of their own. Thoughts like these are toxic in any work environment you may be in. By selflessly helping out a coworker, you will begin to build a mutual respect for one another. As the famous saying goes, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, and you never know when you also will need help on the job. A grateful co-worker will be more likely to have your back when you need something. While it’s important to draw boundaries for the sake of your own work, it looks great in your boss’s eyes when you show that the overall productivity of the whole team is important to you!
GIVE CREDIT GENEROUSLY
It may seem like a natural part of getting ahead in the business world, but sneaky behavior like accepting credit for a coworker’s idea (even in a passive way) can undermine your credibility in the long run. One of the biggest ways to build up the wall with a coworker is to take credit for their hard work.
The best way to connect with someone is to engage them in small talk. The easiest way to break the ice and start to build a relationship is to share a bit of your personal life with your coworkers. Showing that there is a personal side to you will tear down any walls that may have been built and will open up the lines of communication on their end. Always make sure when the communication is being returned on their end, you come across as a willing listener who is eager to get to know them.
AVOID OFFICE GOSSIP
Gossip is mean-spirited and can rapidly reduce moral. Unfortunately gossip is not something that stops when you receive your high school diploma. We’ve all been the subject of gossip at one time or another and know it’s not a great feeling. As my mother has said to me hundreds of times before “do unto others as you would have them do to you”.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH BEFORE YOU HIT SEND
I have been here many times! Sitting at your computer steaming mad at all the wrong doings your coworker has bestowed upon you. The easiest way to confront a coworker is often via email—you get to have your say without the face-to-face drama. But remember that once you hit "Send" from your computer, you can’t take it back and we often don’t feel the same way once some cool down time has been allotted to assess the situation.
SMILE AND BE FRIENDLY
A little small talk can go a long way in building relationships and rapport. Starting each day with a smile and a welcoming greeting can really help ease relations between yourself and other employees. Ask about their night or how their 20 year high school reunion went on Saturday. Remember things that are important to the people you spend as much time with as your own family is the easiest way to show you care.
We all spend a good number of our waking hours at work. And many of those hours are spent interacting with coworkers. So try to make the most of those interactions and you may find you enjoy your job even more!!