Co-workers can be like siblings: they can drive you nuts on a daily basis, but you have to learn to get along with them. This isn’t always easy, but it is important to optimal productivity and satisfaction in the workplace.
Here are seven strategies to help you improve your relationships with co-workers.
The most important part of any relationship is communication. Whether it is with a spouse, friends or co-workers, the art of communication is essential in learning to live and work together. We can not just ignore coworkers who irritate us, so work on communicating in a way that is clear, concise and professional.
Make a point to leave your emotional baggage at home. If you’re dealing with strong emotions in your personal life, they can spill over into your professional life. Your co-workers could detect that you are upset and misinterpret those feelings as being directed at them. This can start off a cycle of them displaying hostility in return. So when you walk into the office, leave the personal issues at home.
If a co-worker seems to be causing negative emotional responses in you, try the following:
- Take a deep breath.
- Realize they have their own baggage to deal with and you don’t want to add to it.
- Count backwards from ten before and after interacting with them.
- Refocus your attention on your work.
Find out if you and your coworkers have any common ground. Maybe you like the same kind of music? Perhaps you both have children in sports? Possibly you like to read the same books? Striking up a conversation during break times could provide you with an opportunity to connect on a personal level.
Opening the pathway for discussions of mutual interests can bring you both into a more positive working relationship.
Avoid taking sides
No matter what industry you work in, there are bound to be disputes and office politics at work. When it comes to conflict between two or more of your co-workers, do yourself a huge favor and stay out of it. Striking a neutral stance on these issues will help you avoid hostility or blame games with others.
It is best to let the other people resolve their issues without your interference. You might think you would be helping, but you will most likely just interject yourself into the hot seat.
Evaluate your social skills
If you consistently find yourself having awkward or stressful interactions with co-workers, re-evaluate the sequence of events. After an episode, take a few moments to mentally review the things that were said and done from beginning to end. Is there a particular way you reacted, or something that you said, which could have sparked a negative reaction in your coworker?
Try to run different scenarios in your mind of how you could react, or things you might say next time that could lead to a different outcome.
Don’t try to be the boss
Unless you are a supervisor, don’t try to take on a leadership role. While you may think you’re showing initiative, it could be coming across that you think you’re better than your co-workers, especially if you say things that could be interpreted like you’re telling the what to do, when you’re not really in a position to do so. Instead, take charge of your responsibilities, and let your coworkers do the same.
On the flip side, if you are the one feeling like your coworker is trying to be your boss, handle it with tact. If they offer you what feels like criticism, thank them politely for their input. Follow it up with a reference that you feel confident about your work, and that your supervisor will give you other feedback if necessary.
Be open to others
Pay attention to your interactions with co-workers when they propose ideas or concerns to you. Are you listening to their input? Do they seem to feel like they are being heard? If you appear to be dismissing their concerns or efforts, you could be offending co-workers and creating a hostile work environment.
Remember, communication is key. The sooner the air is cleared between you and your co-workers, the sooner your workplace can become more efficient and harmonious.
-The Alternative Daily