Coworker, office manners, workplace etiquette, listening skills, effective communication, soft skills
WORKPLACE SUCCESS / 06 December 2016
The Art of Being the Best Coworker: 7 Tips to Winning Your Whole Office Over
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Julie Huang
Head of University Relations

Think about it. Let’s say you’re working in an office for 40 hours a week, 5 days a week, for 52 weeks out of the whole year (with the average 9 days of paid holidays off and 10 paid days off). You’re spending at least 1,928 hours every year around the same people. That’s a lot of hours being around your coworkers. Make an effort to spend it with people you actually get along with. Here are 7 helpful tips on being the best coworker.

  1. Express appreciation and acknowledgement.
    Give credit where credit is due. Whether that be telling someone they did a great job on a project, wrote an amazing article, or just a simple thanks for their suggestions/feedback on something, people want their work to be noticed. Offer little celebrations of things people do. When an individual feel that their work is going unnoticed or feel unappreciated, they’ll have less motivation to go that extra mile next time. Gratitude isn’t always a given, so just take a second and acknowledge their accomplishments. 

  1. Communicate effectively.
    Ever sent an email about something and find yourself getting a response a week later? Recognize that other people’s time is just as precious as yours and reply to their emails or requests as soon as you’re able to.

    Don’t hover. Just as you wouldn’t want a coworker to hover you while you finish up your call, don’t do the same (unless it’s an emergency). Take a little bit of time to figure out what the best method is to communicate with someone. Is it email? In person? Text? Or maybe even Asana or Slack? Find out what it is and stick with it! 

    Small tip: Be aware of when your coworkers are taking a break. If you’ve been bombarding them with questions for a project you’re working on together, the last thing they would want is to get a swarm of questions while they’re on their lunch break. Trust me, you can’t really win them over if they run away from the sight of you.

  1. Reach out to new teammates/coworkers.
    You probably remember experiencing your first week at a new job or internship and being “the new girly or guy.” Don’t act like your already-existing network of work friends is a clique out of a movie about high school teens. Even a simple, “Hey! Welcome to the company. I know how first days can be. Don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.” This isn’t just to be friendly or buttering people up but hey, be nice. Who knows, that person may just be your superior in a few years.

  2. Make suggestions rather than express opinions.
    If a coworker is running an idea by you and asks for your feedback, give them your suggestions rather than telling them what they should be doing. The key here is not to sell them your idea, but to suggest and let them make their own conclusions. They’ll be more open to giving their suggestions the next time you ask them for help.

    Along the lines of making suggestions, do not tell them that they’re wrong by scolding or making fun of them. While any person can condemn, the “best coworker” will try to understand the other person. If you must provide constructive criticism, keep it between the two of you. Compliment something before telling them what they did wrong. A simple equation to use for this is: “You did a great job on ______. Going forward, I would suggest that you tweak _____ and you should see a larger response rate from your target audience.”

  3. Lighten their workload when they have been out of the office.
    Now this doesn’t mean do all their work for them. Any time you or a coworker has to take a few days off for any reason, it’s easy to come back feeling fully-stressed - all of the hours you missed, the emails that have piled up in your inbox, the meetings you cancelled… Oh. Snap.

    Step in, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help lighten the load. They’ll be thankful for you (and maybe even one day return the favor).

  4. Listen.
    Sometimes, you’ll have a bad day at work. Hey, it happens. And when it does, it helps to have someone to vent to. Actively listen to what they’re saying. Try to understand what it is that they’re going through. Help them arrive at their own solution. This simple act of kindness will go a long way.

  5. Be snack-savvy.
    Know that there’s going to be a tough day (or sometimes even a week) ahead? Come armed with doughnuts or bagels. This is one of the simplest gestures you can make that will spice things up and help to break up the seemingly monotonous office environment.

    Bonus tip: Greet them in the morning!

    Think about it. The way you walk in every morning will likely be the first impression your coworkers get of you every day. If you walk in with a smile on your face and cheerfully greet them hello, you’ll be spreading a lot more positivity than walking in, avoiding any eye contact, shoulders slumped, and immediately get to work. You may just find that your coworkers will actively try to avoid you. Make it a habit to simply say hi!

While not everyone will be a coworker you can easily get along with, being a great coworker in doesn’t have to be difficult. It usually just takes a few small gestures to start winning everyone over. 

Do you have any tips on how to be a great coworker? Maybe even some things to avoid when interacting with your colleagues? We’d love to hear ‘em!