12 Tips for Being a Better Coworker

Author: Maurie Backman | June 07, 2018

Young professionals at a table smiling.

Source: Getty Images

1 of 13

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. 

ALSO READ: Want Your Coworkers to Like You? Don't Do These 4 Things

Previous

Next

Professional man sitting across from professional woman.

Source: Getty Images

2 of 13

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.

Previous

Next

Professional women sitting across from each other.

Source: Getty Images

3 of 13

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. 

Previous

Next

Man typing on a laptop.

Source: Getty Images

4 of 13

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. 

Previous

Next

Woman reading emails on a computer screen.

Source: Getty Images

5 of 13

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. 

ALSO READ: 5 Types of Coworkers It Pays to Build Relationships With

Previous

Next

Professionals sitting around a table looking at graphics.

Source: Getty Images

6 of 13

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. 

Previous

Next

Professional man and woman reviewing documents together.

Source: Getty Images

7 of 13

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. 

Previous

Next

Man sitting on a beach chair facing the ocean.

Source: Getty Images

8 of 13

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.

Previous

Next

Two professional men standing over a table reviewing documents.

Source: Getty Images

9 of 13

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.  

ALSO READ: What I Learned From a Coworker

Previous

Next

Woman typing at a laptop.

Source: Getty Images

10 of 13

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. 

Previous

Next

Man handing over a document.

Source: Getty Images

11 of 13

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. 

Previous

Next

Professional man patting another professional on the shoulder.

Source: Getty Images

12 of 13

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. 

ALSO READ: 4 Unwritten Rules You Should Follow at the Office

Previous

Next

Professional female whispering in another's ear.

Source: Getty Images

13 of 13

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 discussion. 

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Previous

Next