Most of us spend around two thirds of our lives at work.
While that might be a depressing thought for some, it’s a reminder of just how much time we spend with our work colleagues.
It’s often joked in the office where I work that we spend more time with each other than our families.
It’s true for many of us. This post isn’t about the topic of how much time we spend with work colleagues. It’s about the relationships we have with them.
Being successful in business, whether it’s with external or internal communication, depends on strong relationships.
You cannot expect your co-workers to support and help you if you’re not polite and helpful back to them. So building strong relationships with coworkers is an important part of working with others.
Some of you will be part of a team. If so you will know how important it is to all get along, your collective success depends on it.
Others may work alone in a cubicle, but you will come across various colleagues around the building, or from communications now and then. It doesn’t matter how often, it’s still important to form good working relationships.
Building employee morale helps a company flourish. It helps people form friendships, not just at work but for life. It helps make employees time more enjoyable, and has a real feel good factor.
There are endless reasons to be a productive member of the team, and to build good working relationships with your colleagues. So why do many people not do this? Why are some people difficult to get along with and destructive?
Unfortunately some people just have a chip on their shoulder, they feel like they don’t need to be nice to others, they live most of their lives in conflict, or they don’t enjoy their work.
There is only so much you can do to help others be nice around the workplace. But how you handle yourself is within your control. You should handle yourself well, be courteous to others, and do your part to make the workplace a better place to be.
After all, we spend a large amount of our lives at work.
Here are 10 ways to build strong coworker relationships:
Remember Common Courtesy
There are several well-known sayings, such as ‘manners cost nothing’, and ‘it’s easier to smile than frown’. We get common courtesy drummed into us from an early age, I always remember my parents, and teachers making comments about being polite and courteous to others.
So show some courtesy to your work colleagues, it’s a simple and easy thing to do. It’s always off-putting when you greet a fellow co-worker as you pass them by and they ignore you. But don’t start doing this back, this isn’t helping.
Just continue to greet people and be polite, maybe anyone who ignored you are too shy, or maybe they just didn’t hear you. But either way, do your part to be polite and courteous at all times. Plenty of people will warm to you for doing so.
Miss-communications can be very embarrassing and cause a lot of problems around the office. With the amount of lines of communication there can easily be missed messages, or crossed-wires too. So don’t jump on someone who you think is ignoring you, there may be a genuine reason.
Find out what type of communication someone prefers. Some people like the face to face interaction, while others want an email they can look at in their own time. Avoid using abbreviations and slang language too, what goes well with your friends may not make sense to a work colleagues.
Respect Other Peoples Time
Everyone has their own workload to deal with, and a certain amount of time to deal with others. The way you approach people can be a big factor in their willingness to help you, and how much time they will give you.
Unless you have an absolute emergency, don’t hover around outside someone’s office or in the background when they are on the phone. Just come back later instead. In a similar vein don’t hand work or messages when people are on lunch, or if you pass them in the corridor.
See If You Can Find the Answer
Everyone loves being helpful, well most people do. But no one likes answering the same questions over and over, especially if they know the answer can be easily found. If you are not good at remembering things, start making notes with answers you accumulate that you can refer to when you need.
This doesn’t mean taking matters into your own hands though. If you think you know the answer to a problem that is not your responsibility, don’t work on it yourself. Leave problems to the appropriate person and department.
Use Social Media Responsibility
It’s become all too easy for coworkers to communicate via social media, and often this platform can be used for all the wrong reasons. Firstly, your organization should have their own policy determining what you can use social media for, and you should adhere to these rules.
But remember that everything you type on social media is going into cyber space. You never know how many people will potentially read it, or when it will resurface again. So treat social media like any other professional communication tool.
Treat Others as Equals
There are hierarchies and structures to all workplaces, and these are in place for good reason. But it doesn’t mean you should treat people below you in the structure any differently. Remember, everyone is there to do a job, and without each and every person things would not run as smoothly.
There is a good chance that someone new to the organization may be your boss one day. So don’t burn bridges now, build bridges and you will benefit from them in the long run. You can develop some real strong friendships over time with the most unlikely of people if you treat each and everyone with respect.
Don’t Moan about Your Job at Work
We all have good and bad days, but moaning about work to your work colleagues is a faux pas. No one wants to hear someone bringing the morale and mood down, it’s certainly not a way to build stronger friendships.
Try and keep all the negative thoughts about work to your home life, where venting a little frustration is ok. If you find yourself moaning non-stop about your job, maybe you are not in the right job and need a change. That’s something to consider.
Welcome New Coworkers
You remember what it was like being the new person, right? It’s difficult and the first few weeks can shape how someone will think about you, and vice versa, for a long time to come. Plus, as I have discussed previously, you never know when someone you end up being your boss or in a position to help you – so welcome new starters warmly.
Make sure any new starters are helped with being shown around, if not, put yourself forward. Everyone needs a friendly face they can go to with questions when they are new, so make a good impression and you’ll form a better relationship ongoing.
Never Pass the Buck
Mistakes happen at work, sometimes these mistakes can be costly. I have seen all types of mistakes costing organisations thousands of dollars, and someone needs to front up and take responsibility.
There is always a chance the person behind a mistake will get into trouble. That’s life. Usually things seem a lot worse than they actually are, if that’s of any conciliation. If you made the mistake, own up. Trying to pass the buck and put the blame on someone else isn’t going to work. In fact, it’s going to make you some enemies pretty quick.
Follow up with People
This one will help you go a long way in many different situations. When you have been working with someone and you’ve finished up on a task, can’t just move on and forget about it. Show that you care and send them a message a few days later asking how they got on.
I can tell you from experience, receiving these emails really count. It’s nice to think, or know, that someone cares about the work you’ve done together. It only takes a couple of minutes to reach out and do this too, so no excuses.
A lot of this you’ve read may be common sense, but it’s often forgotten or under utilized around the workplace.
If you have worked for a number of years across different workplaces, you will have seen your fair share of fallout’s among colleagues, just as I have.
There are a number of ways to build good coworker relationships, and these 10 points are certainly a good way to cover most bases.
Having good relationships with other work colleagues goes a long way not not only making your day better, and their day better, but the productivity and morale of the organisation.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.