No matter what industry or company you work at, you likely spend at least 40 hours and often more with your coworkers. When you do the math, this is how it works out: we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our family and friends. This is one reason why having good coworkers and being a good coworker yourself is so important.
Personally, no one wants to spend lots of time with people they don’t like or where they feel bad or tense all day. And professionally, when people aren’t happy, productivity will suffer. So it just makes sense to try and get along. It’s not necessary to be the best of friends, but it’s better for everyone to be friendly. Developing good relationships with the people you work with is one way to be a great coworker.
So, how do you do it? Here are a few tips.
1. Be polite to everyone. Smile and say hello as you pass someone in the hall or wait for the elevator together. Learn people’s names. Say hello to the receptionist and people from other departments, those you may not work with often or directly. Your coworkers are not just the people nearest your desk or those you work with every day. Don’t gossip about people. Hold the door open. Say please and thank you. Good manners and a friendly demeanor will absolutely help you develop better relationships!
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2. Engage in conversation. Get out there! Meet and talk to your coworkers. We’re all busy and it can be tempting to just grab a cup of coffee and get right back to your desk but every so often you should use your break time to mingle. There’s definitely a balance between spending all your time hanging out talking and never spending a minute doing so. But being a hermit is not friendly behavior and won’t help you develop a good relationship. Just the opposite. Find the balance.
3. Take a real interest in your coworkers. Get to know them. Do they have children? Pets? Where do they live? What are their hobbies? Do they like music, the ballet, soccer? What about work – do you really understand what they do? What projects are they working on and what challenges are they facing? Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Remember what you learn. The more you know about someone, the more you’ll have to talk about. You may also find that you have a shared interest or something else in common. Being friends just got easier!
4. Have lunch together. Go to lunch. Or grab coffee at a coffee shop. Maybe as a team or maybe just with one or two coworkers, but do it. This gives you a longer time to talk and get to know each other better. Talk about work. Talk about other stuff. It doesn’t really matter. Take it even further and plan more organized events – a ballgame, lunchtime harbor cruise, or picnic in the park across the street are great options. The important thing is that you are spending time together outside of the normal work environment. If you are a team or department leader or have people reporting to you, initiate the lunch. If you are asked to go to lunch, go. Make the effort, it will pay off.
In many ways, building a relationship with a coworker isn’t that different from any relationship you develop. It takes time and effort but it’s worth it. If we’re going to spend all this time together we may as well do it in a friendly workplace. And we think you’ll actually find the payoff is much bigger and better than just that. A workplace where people know and treat each other with respect is a happier, more productive workplace. And a more profitable company is good for everyone!