No matter what company, we’ve all encountered co-workers that seem impossible to get along with, bosses who are intimidating, or general employees who can’t seem to “get the hint” about how to politely share office space. Before things fall apart, check out these tips and tricks to help you maintain patience, ensure all employees (including yourself!) are getting along at workand be the best co-worker you can be.

Getting Along at Work with Co-Workers:

You are not the first, and certainly not the last person, to encounter a co-worker who appears unreasonably difficult to get along with. However, in order for you to succeed as an individual employee, you must be able to succeed as part of a team. Here are some ways to do it:

  1. Take your first impression seriously!
    • Any person you meet appreciates feeling valued. Keep that idea in mind as you introduce yourself to other employees. Whether you are working as a new hire or are a veteran of an organization, it is vastly important to make sure you leave a great first impression on any co-workers you encounter. Make eye contact as you introduce yourself, shake each person’s hand, and maintain a genuine smile and happy attitude.
  2. In conversation:
    • Stay away from “taboo” topics
      • In order to ensure that you will never be put in an uncomfortable situation and that you will never make someone feel awkward, steer clear of topics that often entice several varying, contrasting opinions. Some of these topics include politics, religious beliefs, or sexuality. By avoiding topics that should not be discussed at work, you will keep away from creating uncomfortable or hostile conversations between your co-workers and yourself, while also keeping talk light, enjoyable, and casual.
    • Do not talk bad about other employees
      • Although you may disagree or bat heads with other employees, keep those thoughts to yourself. Talking badly about other employees, or gossiping about rumors within the office makes you look bad more than anyone else. Keep your words clean and you’ll be in the clear!
    • Ask questions 
      • While you may be inclined to talk about yourself or your own accomplishments, make sure you always ask the person you are conversing with about their life as well. Get to know your co-workers – after all, you will be spending most of your time with them! It will be much easier to build relationships and further conversations once you know about their lives as well.
  3. Politeness, etiquette, respect 
    • By showing respect to all employees, you will receive respect in return. In order to do so, maintain proper etiquette within your office space. Some examples of proper behavior include cleaning up after yourself, leaving the workplace in order, making sure your actions do not distract those around you (ie: keeping music to a low), and keeping a clean desk. We’ll talk a little more about that in a bit.
  4. Finally… be kind and caring!
    • Your attitude towards others is the utmost important factor in the relationships you will create within any organization. The stress of work can easily take a toll on your co-workers, as well as yourself, so keeping a smile and kind attitude when interacting with the people that surround you every day is extremely important. A quick smile will easily make someone’s day and does not require a lot of effort. Especially when you sense that an associate may be having a bad day, offering a helping hand has a huge impact.

Guaranteeing Confrontations, Not Altercations: 

In most modern work settings, employees are expected to work in teams. While this strategy expands the number of perspectives, ideas, and opinions that contribute to final projects, working in large groups can sometimes lead to disagreements. It is important to remember that you are always entitled to your own opinion, but so are all of your team members. By this point, employees are expected to use open-minds when confronting opinions they may not agree with, but what happens when team members make mistakes? There are a few tricks to keep under your belt when correcting someone else. Whether partnering with a co-worker, manager, or company owner, following these strategies will help to ensure productive conversations instead of altercations.

  1. Speak kindly 
    • When speaking kindly, be conscious of the tone of voice, word choice, and body language you exhibit towards each person you speak with. Use a kind tone, speaking with the right constructive words instead of being argumentative. Also stay aware of your facial expressions, a kind and warm facial expression will be much more effective than an angry look.
  2. Begin with a Compliment Instead of an Insult
    • Starting a conversation with a compliment will set the tone of the conversation as a kind critique, instead of a condescending correction. Some examples of constructive, conversation leading compliments include, “I really appreciate how you did ___, but,” “It was a great idea that you included this, but,” “I truly value your effort to ___, however…”
  3. Ask questions instead of making assumptions
    • Always clarify if the way you are interpreting someone else is the way they are intentionally expressing themselves. For example, if a co-worker continues to incorrectly inputs data into a document, ask if they were instructed in the same way you were about the document. Avoiding quick assumptions guarantees that your confrontation will not be argumentative, but instead inquisitive.
  4. Make sure not to use a condescending tone
    • I’m sure we all know what this sounds like!
  5. Do not demand action, offer to help take action to solve the problem
    • Especially when correcting a co-worker, be mindful of the fact that you are not in charge of them, nor are you the boss. For that reason, offer to help them fix or alter the problem at hand instead of ordering them to do so by themselves. If the change does not require work (ie: correcting the pronunciation of a company or employee name), acknowledge and be appreciative of the correction the next time you hear it.

Always being Polite and Exhibiting Strong Etiquette:

As we previously talked about, showing respect is the best way to earn it. The easiest way to do so is by being polite towards the employees you work with, and showcasing your etiquette. Here are a few easy ways …

  1. Acknowledge your co-workers, greet them at the door and say goodbye before you leave. It’s as easy as saying, “hello” and “hope you have a great night!”
  2. Use your manners. Always say please, may I, and thank you.
  3. Be mindful of the way you speak to others. Some jokes that you may think are funny could easily insult the people around you, and topics that you believe are work appropriate may make others uncomfortable.
  4. There are many more ways to be polite at work… check some others out!

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