Building Good Co-worker Relationships

Building Good Co-worker Relationships

02/16/16 Laura Gibbons

Like family, we can’t always choose our co-workers. But we can choose to work as harmoniously as possible by focusing on key behaviors that promote good relationships and foster a workplace that everyone can enjoy. Take an inventory on what you feel you do well, and what you want to work on.

Use effective communication
Communication is a key ingredient in any relationship, but professionally, your job depends on it.  It can be the difference between productivity, promotion, and maintaining positive morale. To build good communication patterns at work, consider these tips:

  • Be an active listener. The more you are talking, the less you are listening. Take a breath. Refrain from evaluating the other’s words until they have finished, observe non-verbal cues, reflect back what the person is saying, and ask questions to clarify and gather further meaning. Being interested and present shows the receiver that you are intently trying to listen and understand.
  • Be clear. If you are providing direction or feedback, make sure you deliver your message in a way that the person can receive it based on their communication style – both verbal and written. Also consider whether the person responds best or appreciates follow-up with email, phone, IM, face-to-face or combination of communication outlets.
  • Don’t assume. Ask the person if they understand, have questions, or need more clarification. There is nothing worse than walking away from a conversation with no more understanding than when you began.
  • In general, improve communication by not interrupting or cutting the person off, filling silences and not giving the other space to formulate thoughts, abruptly changing the subject without responding to what they have said, finishing their sentences, or summarizing what you think they are going to say.

Avoid negativity – this is just clutter
Negativity – whether you are griping about work, gossiping, over-sharing, being offensive (inappropriate jokes, name-calling, etc.), or being critical – is a morale buster. This negativity can affect your co-worker relationships by decreasing trust, motivation, and satisfaction in the workplace. Choose to have a positive attitude. If there are legitimate concerns, find the best and healthiest way to address them.

Respect other people’s time
Not everyone is on your time timetable. Be courteous of others during the workday by: not hovering outside one’s office/cubicle while they are on the phone or in a meeting, asking someone if they have time to talk rather than assuming it is a good time for them, respecting one’s breaks or lunchtime (this doesn’t indicate someone is free), and unless it is an emergency or part of the job, keeping communication to work hours (pinging someone with emails all night increases stress and does not promote work/life balance).

Don’t pass the buck
We are humans, which means, we will make mistakes. How we handle mistakes is what is important. Be fair: don’t try to hide mistakes or shift the blame to avoid responsibility. Keep to the facts, own your part, and let others explain themselves. No one wants to feel like they got thrown under the bus. Take the opportunity to acknowledge the mistake, problem-solve, and prevent future occurrences.

Be reliable
Everyone’s role in the organization is important, and many times interdependent. Doing your job well, meeting expectations, and heeding deadlines will help build a team environment and assure that everyone is fully committed to not only doing their job, but being thoughtful of what others need to do theirs.

Show respect
When both you and your co-workers feel respected, you are better able to handle differences, appreciate work habits, avoid negative discussions, and be willing to share knowledge and help each other accomplish tasks. Reinforcing to a co-worker that they are doing a great job or you appreciate their help goes a long way. Everyone likes a compliment. Feeling appreciated by your peers builds a sense of value and motivates employees to show up and continue good work.

Cope with conflict
Unfortunately conflict can occur anywhere, especially at work. Avoiding conflict or not effectively addressing conflict can be a burden to all involved. Work with those involved to identify the conflict, what contributes to the conflict, and possible resolutions. If you handle it well, you can build a new sense of resiliency among co-workers. Make sure to address issues when emotions have simmered and discuss in a setting that is appropriate.

To build better relationships with your co-workers, identify at least one item to start improving on, and build from there where needed.

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