We spend at least seven hours a day with them, have to work with them on lengthy projects, or when our safety depends on them. If we don’t get along, life can be miserable. How can you ensure you get on better with your work colleagues?

Don’t fuel any gossip

The gossiper at work seems to know everything about everyone, and is happy to share it. Sometimes the news being shared may be useful to you, but it pays to learn to filter out what is obviously false and ignore that which isn’t helpful.
If the news being shared is of a very personal nature, such as a co-worker’s marital problems, then change the subject, or say you don’t feel right discussing it. Never convey shared information to others, because you then risk becoming a gossiper yourself. Colleagues will see you as untrustworthy, and may fear they will become your next subject.

Practice random acts of kindness

We all have tough days, and a kind word or deed can make all the difference to someone’s day. It doesn’t have to be anything lavish. Some ideas: bring someone a coffee if they look like they need a pick-me-up; invite a new worker to join your lunch group, especially if she doesn’t have many workplace friends; or stop by your colleague’s desk to say good morning and ask about his weekend.

Always be courteous

Let’s face it, some co-workers can be difficult to deal with. It’s easy to lose patience with someone’s quirky habits if they differ from your own. But, says Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, “community has nothing to do with compatibility.” It comes down to being respectful of differences within your work colleagues, and always being considerate and patient.

Acknowledge the big wins

According to a Gallup poll, recognition has a big influence on employee happiness and workplace culture. Recognising your co-worker’s efforts and achievements will build teamwork and engagement. The next time you see your colleague doing a good job, instead of a generic ‘good job’ point out the details, and show interest. Taking just a little more time to acknowledge success makes a big difference to that person, and to the relationships you’re fostering at work.

5 phrases to avoid at work

Want to build better relationships with your co-workers? Then avoid these five phrases.

1. “Why?” This can unintentionally create defensiveness, says relationship coach Kira Asatryan in Psychology Today. She says that ‘why’ is the language of accusation (Why did you do that?). “Despite what may be innocent intentions, that single word primes another person to think of reasons to defend him or herself.” An alternative is ‘How?’ such as “How would you do this differently if given the chance?”

2. “That’s not my problem.” If someone comes to you with a problem, this comment can leave them feeling unsupported and lonely. What you’re also saying is ‘get lost’. While you don’t have to get too involved in the situation with a co-worker, or fix the problem, usually what someone wants is to be heard and acknowledged.

3. “Let’s just get this over with.” What this phrase is saying is that whatever your co-worker is coming to ask you isn’t worth your time. It’s unkind and dismissive.

4. “Just calm down.” One of those phrases that’s guaranteed to result in the opposite of what it is urging. It implies that your co-worker has lost control, and it also makes you judge and jury.

5. “I’m sorry if…” Admitting you’ve done something wrong is difficult, but apologising is necessary to maintain harmonious working relationships. One of the biggest mistakes is starting an apology with this statement, says Asatryan, for example ‘I’m sorry if you were offended’. “Using ‘if’ in your apology allows you to dodge responsibility by putting it back on the other person,” she explains.

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