10 Great Strategies for Getting Along with Coworkers
written by: Krima Olive Molina•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 10/5/2010
You've been nice to them. You flash your happiest smile, nod enthusiastically during meetings, and laugh your insides out at their hilarious anecdotes. The results? Same old detached relationship with your office mates. Hopeless? Here are ten fun tips to try out for getting along with coworkers.
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1. Congeniality Refocused
This is not to say that you should go kiss-ass your way to get to everyone's good side. Just simply making sure that everyone in the office knows you by name and face goes a long way. A quick and easy addition to making your mark on everyone is by taking time to find out what your colleagues are passionate about. Hit that spot right on, and you'll see results immediately. Say you notice that your seatmate has a lot of cat figurines on her desk: Drop a casual comment about how you used to have fun playing with your best friend's cat, and you're guaranteed an instant forging of bonds between you and her.
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2. The Go-To Guy
When it comes to designing fantastic presentations, you know you're the man. Creating new Excel sheets with flawless formulae? Sure, you can do it. Fixing the photocopy machine? Uhm, you can tinker with it a bit. Getting the coffee maker to brew coffee? Errr.
In this day and age of confusing multitasking, a jack-of-all-trades may well be everyone's hero. Take the time to learn new, handy, and practical office skills that are eternally useful and in-demand. Be the one everyone can consult with absolutely anything that goes wrong. Clueless about these practical skills? Find people in your office who are adept at specific areas--another way to make friends! Make this one of your goals, and you're well on your way to stabilizing dynamic coworker relations.
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3. The Proactive in You
What is better than waiting for someone to need your assistance is finding that someone who needs your help. For instance, you notice that a colleague is hesitant about heading a committee for a project in which you've had lots of experience. Approach him after the delegation of tasks meeting and offer a tip or two about how to handle logistics. Your colleague will remember your act of kindness and will surely refer back to you in the projects to come. Going out of your way to offer what you know is something that is always appreciated, especially in a dog-eat-dog world where everyone thinks that everyone else is out to get them.
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4. Friends Within Limits
A colleague barges in the door looking haggard and puffy-eyed. Immediately, your counselor instincts start to scream for you to go up to her and ask her what the problem is. When you feel that your feet are about to take you to her cubicle, stop yourself at all costs. Let your coworker deal with herself first. Later on during the day, casually walk past her desk and share a happy anecdote or two. Comment about how she's not as smiling as the other days. Chances are, she'll start opening up to you about what upsets her even without you asking. Just like that.
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5. Brave Soul
For quite a while now, you and your colleagues have been noticing inconsistencies and injustices that nobody can seem to raise to the boss. Why not volunteer to march up to the boss yourself? Draft a script that's objective and representative of everyone's concerns. Worried about getting on the boss's nerves? Instead of bashing you for being a complainant, your boss is sure to admire your diplomatic way of approaching the issue and speaking on behalf of your colleagues. Do this right, and you're instantly everyone's buddy.
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6. Sensitivity Sizzles
The phone's ringing off the hook and everyone seems to be too busy too care, yet too annoyed to work properly. Heck, just get up and get that call! You don't know how much your colleagues will love you for that. Be careful about doing this often, though. Once or twice is enough to establish a kind rep. On the other side, don't take too long when you yourself are making a phone call. You don't want a couple of colleagues lining up behind you and tapping their feet impatiently.
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7. Neutrality Nod
Avoid office cold wars and politics as much as you can. Stay impartial and results-oriented--be the fair hand in heated situations. If you can't help getting involved in office politics, make sure your words and actions don't get misinterpreted as taking sides.
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Yes, that's right--cheer for your colleagues. Forget competition and just go ahead and be sincerely happy for your coworkers' successes. Genuine praise that's straight from the heart always gets to people. Giving out sincere congratulations paints an image of a secure, whole, and drama-free worker--someone everyone wants to be connected with and, eventually, someone whom everyone else wants to lift up during future successes.
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9. Openness Opens Doors
Note to self during meetings: Showcase your brilliance without shooting down other people's ideas. Once they observe that you are a smart worker who recognizes that there are other smart people in the room as well, their walls of defenses go down to let you and your friendship in.
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10. Humility is Humbling
Thinking that admitting mistakes is humiliating? On the contrary. Admit an office boo-boo as humbly as you can, and watch your colleagues stand in awe of your bravery. You will gain more respect instead of condescending looks, earning you genuine relations with your colleagues, making getting along with coworkers a breeze.