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How to Be a Better Coworker

by Ossiana Tepfenhart 4 years ago in advice / career

With the amount of time spent at work, make your environment more enjoyable by learning how to be a better coworker.

If you're like most Americans, you will spend an average of 2200 hours per year at work. That's a huge amount of time, and that also means that you're going to spending a huge amount of time with your coworkers, bosses, and clients.

Making your work tolerable is crucial if you don't want to have serious problems in your career - or get seriously stressed out by the hate you're getting from the guys in the cubicles next to you.

The best way to make work easier for everyone is to be a good coworker to everyone in your department. After all, it's easier to get friends, cooperation, and better raises if you aren't someone that's easy to hate.

These methods are excellent moves for people who want to get ahead in the office, or just make work more tolerable for everyone involved.

If you notice that someone dislikes you, keep your head down and avoid them.

There are some people who just aren't nice human beings, and they'll hate you no matter what you do. There may even be a group of them. If you want to be a better coworker, don't get sucked into their drama.

If they try to provoke you, do your best to stay calm - and remember that it's a bigger failure on them than it is on you. Should things get very catty, you may want to discuss things with HR.

Or, if it turns openly hostile and you have a feeling that they are trying to get you fired, you may want to double down on making sure that your work is flawless - and work to find a new job in your field. No one has time for a toxic workplace.

Don't do weird bathroom stuff.

For reasons beyond my understanding, I have seen a lot of people who seem to think that office bathrooms are meant for behavior that you would never want to do at home. We've all seen company-owned bathrooms that had brown messes smeared on floors, urine in sinks, and and weird stuff scrawled on walls.

Yeah, don't be the person who is the cause of gross bathrooms.

If you sprinkle when you tinkle, wipe the damned seat. Don't poop on the floor. Don't pee on counters. Flush the toiled, for crying out loud! Treat the company bathroom like your own, because it will make your workplace way nicer on a whole.

Besides, it's worth noting that being caught smearing stuff on bathroom walls is a fireable (and arrestable) offense. So, don't be that guy - and if you are that guy, you may need professional help.

Hang up your personal life at the door.

Everyone has worked with one person that just brings in their personal life with them, and it's pretty exhausting. Listening to all the drama, trying to act sympathetic to their complaints, and just hearing about all the craziness that their kids get into is just plain tiring.

Worse still, hearing all of this often makes you feel guilted into taking shifts for that person even if the reason they're giving is something that you *somehow* tackle every single day without making a huge production of it.

I know it's hard to avoid bringing your personal life into work - I've been guilty of it back when I was making my way in life. However, you have to remember that you're in a professional setting.

You don't want to be the coworker who becomes synonymous with "drama," because it will convince people that you're not actually capable of doing your job well. This can and will hurt your career.

If you can't keep yourself together, you might want to look into working from home, getting professional help, or even just getting on disability until you are in a better mental state.

Keep bad smells to a minimum while on the job.

Humans are gross, and occasionally, we make weird smells. Bad smells can include farts, burps, bad breath, and of course, body odor. The problem with these scents is that other people can smell them - and that makes them not want to be near you. In fact, it can make them distracted, uncomfortable, or even a bit sick.

So, if you want to be a better coworker, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, and engage in other similar acts of basic grooming. And, if you're really worried about offending people, a nice-smelling perfume that doesn't overpower can help you just pull yourself together.

On a similar note, you know what else people don't like to smell? Overpoweringly pungent food. While curry, asiago cheese, tunafish, and other foods like that may taste amazing, they don't often smell amazing. Avoiding foods that have powerful odors is definitely a matter of manners in the office - trust us on that.

Occasionally buy treats for the office.

When you're working with other people, you're part of a team. The best way to show appreciation for your team mates is to contribute to the overall quality of life in the office, right? Of course!

One of the easiest ways to improve morale is to occasionally buy some goods that everyone can use or enjoy. Things like bringing candy to the office, installing a new air freshener in the kitchen, or even bringing a large platter of brownies to the office can help boost morale - and maybe make you more popular at work.

Try to include new hires into your culture, and make a point of being a friend to them if they need it.

New hires are terrified, and often will have a mentality that involves them literally begging to be liked by their peers. This is especially true if this is their first "real world" job - or if they had particularly bad experiences in their last couple of jobs.

Be encouraging to them, and try to get to know them. Help them feel like they are part of the team, and offer to be the person who shows them the ropes if you need to be. Most new hires will be relieved that they met you during onboarding, and they may actually become a good reference for you in future jobs.

Of course, this doesn't meant that you need to be best friends with them or cross discussion lines that aren't work-appropriate. You don't know them very well yet, so wait a while and figure out whether they're the kind of people you would want to talk to outside of work before you make that jump. (It's still a workplace, after all.)

Be politically correct.

Though some people might find it charming to say sexual comments about women they work with, the fact is that women don't find it cute. In fact, they often will find it offensive or even intimidating. On a very similar note, saying racist jokes or making remarks against a person's religion is a terrible idea.

Saying things that insult a person, even if you think they're being "too sensitive," is a good way to make that person dislike you. If your comment seriously hurt them, there's a good chance that they may shut down, complain to HR, or even sue you.

If you aren't 100% sure that what you say won't hurt anyone, then your best bet is to say nothing at all. Oh, and for all that is holy, don't discuss politics in the office!

Don't continue conversations when people are trying to work.

Verbal handcuffs are a thing! If you notice that your coworkers are replying with one-word answers, walking back to their desk, or trying to type while you're talking, they probably don't want to be disturbed.

Make a point to notice subtle body language signs that suggest that someone doesn't want to talk to you. Being a good coworker may include having to pull away from a conversation so that your colleague can do their job.

Avoid toxic, bully behaviors.

Some behaviors just don't belong in the workplace - we call those behaviors bullying. Things like gossiping, purposefully excluding others, and making fun of other coworkers behind their backs may seem "harmless" to do right now, but you never know what may happen in the future.

Worse still is purposefully sabotaging your coworkers' work or career, or going out of your way to get a productive coworker fired. This is just a bad, bad idea because you can never tell how this will turn out in the future.

The coworker you bullied in the past could end up being your boss in 10 years. Your boss may find out that you got the most productive member on the team fired.

Either way, it's not a good look.

Learn how to make small talk, and greet your coworkers every morning.

Though it is an office environment, you're all still human. You all have families and stuff outside of work. You all still want to be treated as people rather than cogs in a wheel.

Being a good coworker also means bringing in a human side to your talks at the office. Make a point of trying to greet people cheerfully and learn the art of small talk. When working on a project, try to get the input of other people around you.

Doing little things like this can help you become a well-liked person in the office, and also can make it possible to meet new friends while on the job. Seriously, it doesn't take much effort to be friendly - try it if you haven't already!

Do your work, do it promptly, and do it well.

Your office is a workplace - not a social scene. You're there to work, and so is everyone else. If everyone else works well and does everything on time, everyone has less work to do, and everyone gets to go home on time. If there's a coworker who doesn't pull their weight, everyone else has to stay late to pick up the slack.

Don't be that coworker. Do the job you were hired to be, and make sure to be prompt when answering your coworkers' emails. It makes everything easier on everyone involved, and you also will be more likely to keep your job.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart
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Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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