If you’re working full time, you likely spend 40 (or more) hours per week with your coworkers. You more likely spend the majority of your waking hours during the week with your coworkers than you do with your significant other, your kids, your best friends, and your pets. Establishing healthy relationships with your coworkers isn’t just a potential benefit to make working more enjoyable, it is a necessity. The coworker relationship can be a complicated one. It’s easy to get frustrated or annoyed with the people in your office, but negative working relations can significantly impact your productivity and your quality of life at the office.
Employees that are engaged in their workplace are more likely to stick around and to enjoy their time at work. The relationship that you have with your coworkers might be great or it could be a significant source of unnecessary stress for you. Much like in any other relationship, coworker interactions take work and we can all benefit from becoming more aware of the way that we treat the people who work closest with us.
1. Be Considerate of Others and be Respectful of Their Time
None of us want to feel as though our time is being wasted or that we’re being disrespected. Common courtesy and consideration can go a long way in an office setting, where work stress and strict deadlines can ramp up tensions between coworkers quickly.
Being mindful of other’s space and respecting common spaces like break rooms or kitchens can be especially important if your office space is on the small side. Respecting your coworkers is the foundation of successful coworker relationships and is essential to establish and maintain to keep office morale and productivity high.
2. Acknowledge and Celebrate Others’ Successes
The startup and corporate world can feel cutthroat at times, especially in sales roles or positions where the measures for your success are directly compared to your coworker’s quotas. However, the company is a team and the success of your coworkers is ultimately a success for your company.
When the company succeeds, you benefit- whether you brought in a large deal or contract, or if your coworker did. Congratulating others on their successes is an easy way to demonstrate your appreciation and respect for the work that they do.
3. Express Gratitude and Appreciation
Expressing gratitude and appreciation for your coworkers go hand in hand with celebrating successes. You don’t need to treat every day as if it’s National Coworker Day, and cards and flowers certainly aren’t necessary to show your appreciation. Thank others for their contributions to a team project and be encouraging to others, especially if they begin to feel discouraged or overworked.
There will come a time when you will need a favor from your coworker, whether it’s to follow up with a client, to cover for you while you’re out of the office, or to proofread your report. Expressing your gratitude and appreciation for their help goes a long way in ensuring that they’ll be willing to help you again in the future.
4. Use Appropriate Communication
You will find that different coworkers prefer to use different methods of communication, be it over the phone, email, instant messaging, or in person. Regardless of the way that you choose to communicate with your coworker, keep your communication professional, helpful, and prompt. While you’re in the office, keep any personal conversations with coworkers light and positive and ensure that neither of the parties’ work is negatively affected.
5. Avoid Gossip
At some point, you’ll find yourself frustrated with even your closest work colleague. It’s unavoidable, but how you choose to respond to this frustration is a choice that you control. Gossiping with your coworkers about another coworker or manager is a slippery slope that you need to avoid.
Gossip in the workplace can affect morale, productivity, be detrimental to employee engagement and increase employee turnover. Of course, if you run into a problem with a coworker that cannot be resolved or is of a serious nature, reach out to a manager or HR to mediate the issue.
6. Be an Active Listener
Active listening is a way of listening and responding to what someone else is saying that demonstrates your attention and understanding. Active listening will not only help you to engage with your coworkers, it fosters a sense of mutual understanding and trust.
Actively listen during meetings, when collaborating when coworkers, and during planning sessions. Everyone wants to feel like their voice is being heard and showing that you value and are listening to what others have to say reflects positively on your work and your ability to be a positive team member.
7. Reach Out to Newcomers and Make Them Feel Welcome
Companies grow and employees come and go over time. While you may truly enjoy your relationships with your current coworkers, these might not be the same coworkers that you’ll interact with in the next year. Joining a new company is difficult.
You’re thrust into an environment where coworkers already have relationships with each other, and it’s easy to feel like the odd man out. Just like we all know what it feels like to be the new kid at school, we all know what it’s like to be the new person at the office.
Reach out to new members of your team, your department, and your company. Engage them in the activities that you already participate in with your coworkers, like having lunch or weekly happy hour drinks. Making someone feel welcome is easy and the kindness you show during his or her first days in the office could spark a new friendship and pay off in the long term.