Given that most of us work between 40-50 hours per week, it’s not surprising that we often end up spending more time with our coworkers than we do with those in our personal lives. Just like those relationships in our personal life, conflict is bound to arise. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the recommended ways to handle these conflicts and also share tips on getting your coworkers to LOVE you.
1. Follow Through on Commitments
As siloed work is becoming less and less common, teamwork is crucial to accomplishing tasks. Much like a cog in a machine, if one piece falters, the whole process is thrown off. Though many of us are juggling multiple tasks at once, it’s extremely important to be reliable. If you promise to help on a project, or to turn something in by a certain day, make sure that you follow-through; if another task comes up that prevents you from completing what you’ve promised, make sure to communicate that as soon as possible! Show that you value the project by apologizing sincerely. A sincere apology is one that is genuine and infrequent, so don’t overuse your “sorry” card unless you want to lose credibility. Building this kind of rapport with the people you work with every day will not only benefit you professionally, but will also help in developing better relationships outside of the office.
2. Say Positive Things and Avoid Negativity
It’s easy to get caught up in the political landscape of the office. Chances are, if you go looking for an issue, you’ll find it. Organizations and offices are living, dynamic entities - there will be ups and downs. Maybe one coworker has really been dropping the ball lately and it may even be affecting your work. Rather than venting to other coworkers, address it (respectfully) with that individual or keep it to yourself. If it really becomes a serious issue, you might need to consider talking to your Management or HR supervisors. If this is the case, make sure to take your emotions out of the conversation and focus on how it is affecting your job duties. Conversely, it’s recommended that we praise our coworkers often! If you’re in a sales environment and somebody lands new business, leave them a quick note or stop by and congratulate them. If you’re in a creative environment, you can compliment someone’s talent on a specific piece of work. Everyone deserves acknowledgment for their time and effort, and it helps many of us feel valued. Being the person that values others is a great reputation to build in your office, and often inspires others to go above and beyond for you.
3. Gracefully Accept Criticism
As mentioned in the previous tip, there may be times when people drop the ball - there may be times when YOU are the one that dropped the ball. If a coworker approaches you with some constructive criticism, try your best to avoid being defensive. Instead, listen to their perspective and ask questions to better understand. If it’s something you really don’t agree with, ask that coworker how they would prefer you work with them in the future. We all have very different ways of working and communicating, and being open-minded to those differences helps diffuse conflict. And though not all criticism is going to feel constructive, handling it gracefully in either case will build your rapport around your organization.
There are some personalities that you may never get along with and the same applies to work styles. Some colleagues might prefer more personal interactions at work, regarding social chats in high esteem. These personalities often find great value in their jobs by cultivating personal friendships in the office. Alternatively, there are those that prefer to separate their personal life from office life, and regard task-oriented conversations in high esteem. These personalities find value in efficiency and accomplishing tasks on their list. Those personalities that prefer social chats might feel that task-driven coworkers are too direct and insensitive, and task-driven personalities might feel that social coworkers are inappropriate or inefficient. At either end of the spectrum, it’s important to be flexible. If there’s a coworker that you really struggle with, try to observe how they interact with other people in the office and then implement that in the next communication you have with them. It might feel unnatural at first, but this empathy and adaptation can be very valuable to both your morale and the work relationship.
5. Take Ownership of Your Mistakes
This might seem obvious, but in the daily grind, it can sometimes get lost. Whether you know that you were a little demanding or rude in a meeting, or you messed up on a project, make sure to acknowledge those mistakes. Something as simple as this may improve the relationship significantly - no one expects their coworker to deliver perfect performance and results all of the time. In instances of falling short, addressing it in the moment helps cushion our future mistakes. For example, imagine the difference between the coworker that never admits they were wrong and blames everyone else versus the coworker that owns up to their mistakes along the way; it’s likely that those employees have earned very different reputations in their offices as time goes on.
6. Get Involved
If all of these tips were implemented, your coworkers would like you at least a little more than they did before…but if you want them to LOVE you, you’ll need to get involved. As previously stated, some personalities may prefer to separate work life from personal life; these personalities are likely not interested in whether their coworkers have (professionally) fallen in love with them or not- nothing wrong with that! However, keeping your work life too siloed is not the way to bond with colleagues. Humans are driven by emotional connections, whether we like to admit that or not. If a colleague is sharing a personal story with you, try to show some interest. Ask your coworkers to an occasional lunch, or event. It’s a fine line to balance friendship and professionalism, but it doesn’t take much to make someone feel respected and valued. Once you can do that, you’ll likely have a (professional) loving office network.