Starting at a young age, it’s important to us to be a good friend. In grade school we want to make friends so we have someone to sit with at lunch. In college we want friends to help us get through those harder semesters. It’s no different in the work force. Being a good friend to a coworker can be really helpful to both you and the coworker. Not only that, but making new friends is great. As the saying goes, “The more the merrier”. Here are some simple steps to being the best coworker.
The first step is super simple: talk to your coworkers. Talk to them about their families, and friends, their interests, favorite books, etc. Much like when you meet someone in a different setting, the idea is to get to know them better and relate to them on some level. While you will all have the common interest of your jobs, you may be surprised how much you and a coworker have in common. Even if you make small talk with a fellow employee and learn that the two of you have nothing in common, or just don’t seem to see eye to eye, it’s still best to at least make some conversation just to keep the environment pleasant.
Be approachable. I know what you’re thinking, “What does that even mean?” Well, for starters. Start the work day with a greeting, not just slumping to your desk and immediately organizing your emails. You’ll come off as unapproachable or possibly rude. Now, once in a while you’re going to have mornings where you’d rather skip your daily coffee than have to talk to anyone, and that’s okay. The key is to make sure this isn’t a daily occurrence. Get yourself into the habit and smiling and saying hi to everyone, you’d be surprised how far a simple greeting will get you.
This one may seem inevitable when dealing with a large group of people who interact every day, but nonetheless should try to be avoided. Gossip. Nobody likes being talking about. So much like what my mom told me when I was little, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, not everyone’s mom told them this; there will definitely be that person who constantly has the latest office news. They’ll come up to you a few times a week, starting their sentence with a question like, “Did you hear about ____?” or, “¬¬¬¬_____ is probably getting fired.” When these instances occur, it’s best to change the subject or remove yourself from the situation. The last thing you need when you’re trying to get on the good sides of your coworkers is for them to think that you’re talking negatively about them.
Do not take the credit for something that was not your doing. Just don’t do it, people will not like you, and you’re stealing. If someone did something really great, and you were moderately involved in that process, congratulate them, offer to buy them lunch. Don’t be petty, or upset that you don’t have the spotlight on this accomplishment. If you do your work well, and are nice to people, your time will come. People will remember how you react to other’s accomplishments, whether it be with jealousy or with happiness for them. Here’s another one of mom’s pieces, treat others as you want to be treated. And I’m sure you don’t want people stealing your accomplishments.
Making friends, and being friendly in general, is a big part of life. Life is easier with good friends and the same goes for work. Your job will be more enjoyable if you have good relationships with your coworkers and are able to laugh and share joy at each other’s accomplishments. Take some time out of your crazy mornings to say a quick hello, you’ll probably even get a few smiles in return.
I am Courtney McGuane, I am an undergrad at Loras College studying media studies and creative writing. Most of my time is spent cooking, drinking coffee and hiking with my best friend. I really love traveling and I hope to go to every continent someday.