Colleagues and teamwork
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How to win friends and influence colleagues

6 Dec 2016

You might not be in the market for a new set of friends, but it’s important that you get along with your colleagues. Here’s how to win them over for a happier work environment.

The average person spends between 90,000 and 100,000 hours working. Sure, you may move jobs occasionally, you could work from home some of the time, but no matter what way you look at it, that’s a lot of hours spent with your colleagues.

It has also been proven that a happy work environment is a productive one. When you get along with your colleagues, morale is generally higher than average and so, you are more productive and produce better quality work.

Whether you like it or not, it is best practice to get along with your colleagues, and if you can even have a laugh with them, you’ll find your work life much easier. There’s a reason all the job descriptions request a good team player.

Be sociable

While it might seem obvious, being sociable in the office is one of the best ways to have a happy work environment with your colleagues.

Don’t be that person who walks in every morning and sits down without a word, or leaves without saying goodbye. If you ignore them, they’ll ignore you.

Be polite, ask them how their weekend was, and allow general small talk to take place. If you’re a hard worker who doesn’t believe in wasting time, it’s important for you to remember that a few light-hearted chats throughout the day will still boost your productivity more than ignoring everyone and working straight through.

Take it on the chin

No one wants to work with the colleague who they have to tread on eggshells around. With the workplace comes a certain amount of carefree joking around.

You might be teased for being the forgetful one in the office or for being clumsy. Most of the time, your colleagues will just be joking around.

If everyone does it to everyone else and there’s no malice, try not to get wound up by it. If something genuinely makes you feel hurt or uncomfortable, talk to them about it.

Ask for input

Being a team player is all about a collective goal – you’re all trying to achieve the best for the company. If you work on a lot of solo projects, ask for input from a supervisor or a peer.

This doesn’t mean you’re crying out for help. Aside from getting some reassurance about your own work, you could benefit from a second pair of eyes.

Also, asking for your colleagues’ input will keep them engaged with you and they will be more likely to ask you for input in the future.

Lend a hand

Try to stretch beyond simply giving an opinion – don’t just work on your own stuff. If you see a colleague struggling with a project, drowning in admin or just staying late to finish something, ask them if they need help.

Of course you don’t want to take on extra work, but we can all get buried in a number of projects at different times and if you never help your colleagues, they won’t be very inclined to help you out.

To get the maximum benefit of this, use your downtime effectively. Don’t just sit back on a light workload. Offer help to anyone if you’re having a quiet week to avoid any guilt of having to turn people down when you genuinely don’t have time.

Avoid gossip

If your office is particularly gossipy, it can be difficult not to get sucked into the toxic chats, but stay strong.

Most of the time, office gossip is harmless and it’s not something you need to worry about, but it still creates negative vibes, so steer clear.

Watch out for particularly nasty comments or relentless gossip about one particular person. It might not be pleasant, but that might be where you can take ‘team player’ action and speak up for that person.

Compliment others

We all want recognition for the extra mile we go, the late nights we put in or the excellent presentations we put together. But not all work will naturally lend itself to praise from your colleagues.

That’s not to say you don’t deserve it, but you shouldn’t expect it for every task. Don’t constantly mention loudly everything you do when you do it.

If you want genuine compliments, give them out first. If you notice good work or late nights from your colleagues, say it to them and let the law of reciprocity do the work.

Learn to get along with difficult colleagues

Even when you make a conscious effort to be a good, sociable colleague, you will come across those who are not, but you still have to work with them.

Sometimes, you will have to play to their tune to make your life easier. That doesn’t mean letting them mistreat you or other people, or picking up their slack. However, it might mean avoiding them in the morning when you know they’re more irritable.

Certain colleagues will like things done a certain way. If this doesn’t take much effort on your part, it could be beneficial to go along with it.

If a colleague is particularly difficult, it might be worth talking to them about it. Sometimes, they don’t realise how they’re being perceived, and even if they do, they won’t want to come across that way and might check their own behaviour more in the future.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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