Make sure you stay on the company’s A-list by learning how to appreciate others and step back from potential conflict. An occasional disagreement is fine when it invites different problem-solving perspectives. But a habitual arguer will soon wear out his welcome at any jobsite.
1. Talk less, listen more
Many conflicts escalate from what start out as harmless word exchanges. Then one or the other person says too much, too little, or the wrong thing and trouble begins to brew.
During discussions with coworkers, gauge your contribution proportionately to one-third mouth and two-thirds ears; after all, that’s how the body is designed, right?
2. Schedule talk-time away from your desk
If a coworker wants to chat more often than you are comfortable with and to the point where it interferes with your job performance, politely remind your associate that the task at hand is occupying your attention, but you will have time to catch up during the coffee break or over lunch. Simple comments like this will help to keep things in perspective.
3. Avoid controversial topics
Everyone knows that no matter who you are or where you work, certain topics should remain off limits. These topics typically include politics, religion and personal values, among others. If conversations begin to veer in the direction of conflicting viewpoints, carefully introduce a different topic or make a neutral or even humorous statement to deflect tensions. Keeping things light can go a long way toward getting along with others on a routine basis.
4. Respect diversity
Many companies employ one or more associates who may seem different from the majority. While these traits may draw attention because they stand out, they are not cause for making crude comments or biased jokes at the expense of the individual or the group he represents. Do your part to respect all differences within your work area and try to encourage others to do the same.
5. Submit to authority
Sure, there are plenty of bosses out there who abuse their authority and make life hard for some employees. Rather than refuse to comply with demanding expectations or make waves with the brass, it is usually smarter (except for grievous circumstance) to ignore the negative attitude and do your job to the best of your ability.
6. Sidestep office politics
You know the type: in most offices there is usually someone who stirs things up by complaining, gossiping, or whining. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but that is not the best way to attract supervisory attention. Stay away from such employees and don’t become one. If you have a problem, take it to someone who can help. Don’t share personal or job-related problems with coworkers who can do nothing about them. They will only spread rumors and feed the gossip mill that may damage your reputation and your job at some point.
7. Guard your reputation
Don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, figuratively speaking. When getting along with coworkers is a priority, you will have to watch your back and protect yourself from others’ negative impressions. Do your job the best way possible. Don’t take questionable shortcuts. Avoid involvement in potentially explosive situations, such as romantic entanglements at your worksite or illicit activities using company property or equipment.
8. Seek clarification
When a problem erupts, stay calm and seek clarity on the issues instead of arguing with a coworker or supervisor. For example, if you are told you will be laid off due to the company’s downsizing, don’t explode in your cubicle where others can hear. Go to management directly for the facts. Never assume! Go to the most appropriate source for information when you hear controversial rumors or statements.
9. Go above and beyond
If getting along with coworkers really is essential to your job performance, find ways to do a little extra to ease strain and discouragement within the department or among the staff. Offer to help someone who seems overwhelmed, or bring in muffins on a big deadline day. People will remember you as the one who keeps a positive outlook in the face of stress and difficulty.
10. In conclusion
Practice smiling more, speaking less and listening most of the time to perform your job the way it should be done and to become a real asset to your employer, as well as an encouragement to your colleagues.
Getting along with coworkers is not difficult, but it does require effort and patience before you begin to see lasting results.