Author: Maurie Backman | June 07, 2018
How to form positive colleague relationships
It’s in your best interest to get along with your coworkers and earn their respect. Doing so will not only make for a more positive work experience, but encourage your manager to reward you accordingly. With that in mind, here are a few steps you can take to be a better person to work with.
1. Learn to listen
Many people enjoy nothing more than the sound of their own voices, so in a workplace environment, it’s refreshing to find colleagues who have actually mastered the art of listening. The next time you’re attending a meeting or are having a discussion with coworkers, take the time to really hear them out before interjecting or jumping to your own conclusions. Listening to your colleagues is an easy way to show that you respect them, which is something they’ll no doubt come to appreciate.
2. Offer to be a mentor
If you’re a seasoned employee, you have a real opportunity to help out the newbies who may be walking around the office overwhelmed and clueless. By offering to serve as a mentor for others, you’ll not only give those new hires a chance to learn from your experience, but you’ll save their managers the hassle and stress of getting them up to speed. And that’s a great way to get in a lot of people's good graces.
3. Solve company-wide problems
Maybe you’re an IT wiz with the know-how to stop your internal database from crashing every three days, provided you’re willing to put in the time. Or maybe you’re a rock star office manager who understands why spotty internet service just won’t cut it. No matter what major problem your company is facing, making an effort to resolve that issue is a good way to show your coworkers you’re looking out for them.
4. Respond to emails in a timely fashion
Most of us get our fair share of emails each day, and it’s natural to sometimes ignore those messages in favor of more pressing tasks. But if you want to establish solid relationships with your coworkers, give them the courtesy of relatively prompt responses, even if it means carving out a little time at the end of each day to tackle your inbox. And if you’re sitting on an email you know you can’t reply to for quite some time, a quick “So sorry Bob, I’ll get back to you shortly” will go a long way.
5. Show up on time to meetings
Like it or not, meetings are a part of office life. But even if you loathe attending them, be a good coworker by arriving on time. Showing up late, especially on a consistent basis, sends the message that you don’t value other people’s time, which is an easy way to incur your colleagues’ wrath.
6. Only contradict your colleagues in private
In the course of your job, you’re bound to encounter colleagues with whom you disagree. And there’s nothing wrong with that, provided you voice your conflicting opinions in a private setting. Calling out your coworkers in public is apt to embarrass them, so when you know you’re in the right, share your insights one on one. Your colleagues will appreciate your discretion, which will tie into the way they view you on a whole.
7. Give ample notice when you'll be out of the office
We all need time away from work, whether it’s to address personal matters or take some much-needed vacation. But if you want to escape in a manner that impacts your colleagues the least, be sure to give your team members a healthy heads-up about your planned time off. This way, they’ll be less overwhelmed or caught off guard when they’re suddenly forced to cover in your absence.
8. Offer to back others up when they're away
Just as you deserve the occasional break from the grind, so too do your colleagues. But many employees struggle to take vacation because they fear their workloads will pile up in their absence, and they’ll fall behind on deadlines. That’s why it’s important to be that person who offers to back others up as needed. Volunteer your time, and your colleagues and manager will be sure to not only think highly of you, but potentially return the favor.
9. Thoroughly document tasks before handing them off
If you’re working on a project you know will eventually get handed off to someone else, one of the kindest things you can do is document its progress thoroughly. Doing so will help the person jumping in get a handle on things much more easily and avoid the stress that comes with taking over mid-assignment.
10. Be willing to do some of the grunt work
If you’re a senior associate who’s been with the same company for years, your days of making photocopies and booking conference rooms may be long behind you. But if you see that your junior colleagues are struggling, you’ll never go wrong by jumping in and taking some of the load off their shoulders. This sends the message that you’re not only helpful, but humble.
11. Give credit when it's due
Maybe you delivered an outstanding presentation that got your management team’s attention. Tempting as it may be to take credit for all of that work, if you know that several colleagues of yours contributed data, graphics, or other tidbits, be sure to let that be known. Doing so basically screams “team player,” which is something your coworkers will no doubt admire.
12. Avoid gossip
Gossip is one of those things that’s hard to escape at the
office. But if you make an effort to avoid it, you’ll come off as a much nicer
person in your coworkers’ eyes. The next time you find yourself pulled into a
gossip-ridden conversation, politely excuse yourself or insist on changing the
subject matter. After all, it’s what you’d want others to do if you were the topic of an unsavory
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