While it's not always easy to get along with your coworkers, it's a worthwhile endeavor: good working relationships are more important than ever in today's increasingly collaborative work environments. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be easier said than done. It's not impossible, however. Get a proactive jump on forming positive workplace relationships by implementing these seven simple yet productive methods.
1. Communication Counts
Open lines of communication are critical to all relationships -- both in and out of the office. Different people have different needs and preferences. Understanding your co-workers' needs and delivering on them can help you not only enjoy a better working relationship, but also maximize productivity.
Does he/she prefer email, phone or face-to-face meetings? Are daily check-ins preferable to weekly updates? Establishing ground rules for how and when you'll communicate eliminates confusion, irritation, and other negative emotions in the workplace.
2. Show Respect
Just as your work is your top priority, so are your fellow co-workers' roles and responsibilities of equal priority to them. Be on time to meetings, treat everyone with courtesy, and honor the time and space of others.
3. Be Positive
While there's a time and place for venting, the workplace during work hours is not it. Avoid complaining about your boss and co-workers on the job. Not only does this damage others' perception of you as a professional person, but it also promote a culture of negativity.
Rather than becoming part of the problem, commit to becoming part of the solution. If workplace problems are prevalent, brainstorm ideas toward their solution. This is far more productive than griping to anyone who will listen and risking your own reputation in the process.
4. Listen Up
Everyone has the potential to make a difference in the workplace -- regardless of level or position. Encourage and welcome ideas from others, and refrain from disparaging or belittling them.
This doesn't mean you have to accept and implement bad ideas, but it does mean treating people -- and their ideas -- with the same courtesy with which you'd want to be treated.
Plus, you never know when someone's idea will turn into an unexpected solution for an ongoing challenging.
5. Speak Up
You have a unique set of knowledge, expertise and ideas. Sharing these with your team members not only has potential to make positive change, but also gives your co-workers a better sense of who you are and what you have to offer.
In addition to sharing your ideas, it's also essential to share your gratitude. If a fellow employee has helped out with a task or made a positive contribution to a project, acknowledging their efforts can go a long way to building a sense of teamwork.
6. Be Accountable
As Big Bird himself famously crooned, "Everyone makes mistakes." Errors are a fact of life. In most cases, they're recoverable. What's not recoverable? Making a mistake and putting the blame on another co-worker. If you miss a deadline or mess up an assignment, own it.
Conversely, when co-workers miss deadlines or mess up assignments, don't sell them out to management. Give them the opportunity to remedy their mistakes, and offer your assistance along the way. Your support when they need it now may mean their support when you need it later.
7. Follow Up
Along the same lines as being accountable, it's also essential to follow up on your obligations. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you're unable to complete the promised task, promptly inform your co-worker or boss. Again, missing deadlines is understandable, but attempting to cover up or run from setbacks may lead to disaster. Trust between co-workers is paramount, and following up on your commitments is an essential component in developing trust.
While you and your co-workers may never be besties, there's no reason you can't overcome personal differences and work together as a team. These seven tips and tricks can get you on track to professional relationships which aren't just tolerable, but fulfilling.
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