It has been awhile since I’ve worked in an office, but I still remember the people that I truly loved working with. And fortunately for me, I’m still friends with a large number of those amazing people.
It’s not easy becoming the co-worker that everyone loves. There are so many landmines to avoid when you’re in the workplace, and being “the co-worker that people love to hate” is not the title that you want to wear at work. Let’s talk about all of the ways you can get your co-workers to love you without becoming the office brown-noser.
Always remember to respect other people’s time.
You don’t have to watch the clock obsessively, but be aware that people notice when you’re constantly late for work, meetings, or keep them waiting in general. After a while it stops being funny and just makes you look like a douche and unprofessional. And, seriously, those are two labels you want to avoid at work.
It doesn’t matter if you run constantly late for everything and everyone else in your life (even though it’s still annoying). Be self-aware enough to know that disrespecting other people’s time will ultimately make them dislike working with you.
Create a plan so that you’re on time and stick to it.
Can you hear me now?
Practice active listening whenever you’re in a conversation or meeting with your colleagues. I remember being constantly frustrated because I felt like people weren’t listening to me.
We would have discussions in one of the endless meetings that could have been an email. I would pipe up to make a point and then people would talk over me or ignore what I said – all the time. They clearly weren’t listening to me. It was so annoying and I felt disrespected.
Be the person who truly listens to others. We notice when you do. Offer thoughtful and kind responses to whatever proposals or questions that your colleague brings up. If you’re in disagreement with their comments, be kind when offering point of view.
It sometimes feels like people have forgotten the art of being tactful. At work, it still reigns supreme.
Don’t eat other people’s food.
They always find out who does it.
I’ll never forget the drama that ensued one year because one of our colleagues kept eating everyone’s lunches. I worked in education so it was normal for everyone to bring their lunch. We also had a ton of community food for everyone to take if they were hungry. So it baffled me when this person would eat the food that other people brought…but, they did. On and off for a year.
The worst part…it was just too awkward to call this person out. Instead, everyone gossiped about the fact that they were eating everyone else’s food. That person even helped themselves to my Perrier and that was the end for me. Fortunately, this person left and things got back to to normal.
If you have nothing nice to say…
Gossiping will also get you shanked professionally. The thing about gossip is that even if you’re telling the truth about a person or calling out a situation, if you’re constantly gossiping, people will wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.
I have a very firm policy of whatever I say – I will say to your face. It makes life easier. But, at work you really should avoid gossip in general. If you find yourself in a group of people and they start gossiping just float away and say you have something else to do. If you still find yourself sucked in, just joke and say that you’ve got nothing to say and move on.
Know which topics are off limits.
For the love of all that’s holy-be self-aware enough to avoid talking about how young or old you or your colleagues might be. For some people it could come across as talking down to others (if you’re older) or, it could be perceived as disparaging other people’s age if they are older than you.
I’ve literally cringed when people begin talking about age at work. Just do your job and move on.
It feels like it’s obvious but for the sake of just stating the obvious-avoid talking about religion, race, or politics as much as you possibly can. Discussing any of those topics almost never ends well.
At my old job we actually were able to talk about these issues because we were all almost of the same mindset regarding all of those issues. But the typical workplace won’t have that high a level of value alignment. Leave the talk at home for people who have no choice but to listen to you.
By no means am I saying that you have to stop being yourself, never say what you mean, or pretend like you don’t have an opinion. But, what I am saying is that the self-aware worker is the one who is well-liked, listened to, and promoted in the office space.
Be that guy or gal. It’s not that hard.
Do you have any other tips for being a good co-worker? Or any stories about bad ones? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.