Even if you have a job you love and a boss who’s kind and supportive and respectful of your talents, coworkers can make going to the office a real drag. Let’s face it: We spend more time with these people than we do with our friend and families, and when there’s drama in the workplace, it can take really the wind out of your sails. Luckily, there are ways to avoid squabbling with your fellow employees and ensure a pleasant work environment.
In a post on the Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago website, student therapist George Ball offers five tips for interacting with coworkers. Some of they may seem obvious, but in the heat of the moment, when you’re having a disagreement with Suzie from accounting, or you suspect Johnny from the mailroom is spreading rumors about how you got your promotion, it’s easy to forget some of these things.
1. Use Those Ears – Ball’s first rule is to “talk less, listen more.” When coworkers start spouting off about how hard their day or week has been, they’re probably not looking for a lot of input or advice. They want to vent, and the best thing you can do is lend an ear. “Listening to them, without offering too much input, will show your coworker you genuinely care about them and they will return the favor when you have something on your mind,” Ball writes.
2. Celebrate Diversity – While the idea of working in a roomful of people exactly like you might sound appealing, it’s unrealistic, and more than that, it’s bad business. Modern workplaces thrive on diversity, and as Ball writes, it’s a “blessing” to “interact with people who share different views than yourself.” Folks from different backgrounds bring unique talents to the table, and a diverse company is a strong company.
3. Avoid Office Politics – Ball cautions against playing the “he said, she said” game, as spreading gossip around the office can only lead to trouble. “The moment you enter into the rumors of the office, you lose not only respect from your peers but their trust as well,” he writes.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions — There’s a tendency at work to hush up when you don’t know how to do something, but it’s always better to ask for clarification than it is to do something wrong. As one of Ball’s coworkers once put it, “I would rather you open your mouth and sound stupid, than keep it closed and be stupid.” That’s a blunt way of putting it, but it makes sense.
5. Go that Extra Mile — When your company succeeds, everyone succeeds, and there’s no better way to strengthen your relationships with coworkers than by going above and beyond to help reach a goal.