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12 Tips for Being a Better Coworker



By Maurie Backman, Fool.com

How to form positive colleague relationships

It’s in your best interest to getalong with your coworkers and earn their respect. Doing so will not onlymake for a more positive work experience, but encourage your manager to rewardyou accordingly. With that in mind, here are a few steps you can take to be abetter person to work with.

1. Learn to listen

Many people enjoy nothing more than the sound of their ownvoices, so in a workplace environment, it’s refreshing to find colleagues whohave actually mastered the art of listening. The next time you’re attending ameeting or are having a discussion with coworkers, take the time to really hearthem out before interjecting or jumping to your own conclusions. Listening toyour colleagues is an easy way to show that you respect them, which issomething they’ll no doubt come to appreciate.

2. Offer to be a mentor

If you’re a seasoned employee, you have a real opportunityto help out the newbies who may be walking around the office overwhelmed andclueless. By offering to serve as a mentorfor others, you’ll not only give those new hires a chance to learn from yourexperience, but you’ll save theirmanagers the hassle and stress of getting them up to speed. And that’s a greatway to get in a lot of people's good graces.

3. Solve company-wide problems

Maybe you’re an IT wiz with the know-how to stop yourinternal database from crashing every three days, provided you’re willing toput in the time. Or maybe you’re a rock star office manager who understands whyspotty internet service just won’t cut it. No matter what major problem yourcompany is facing, making an effort to resolve that issue is a good way to showyour coworkers you’re looking out for them.

4. Respond to emails in a timely fashion

Most of us get our fair share of emailseach day, and it’s natural to sometimes ignore those messages in favor of morepressing tasks. But if you want to establish solid relationships with yourcoworkers, give them the courtesy of relatively prompt responses, even if itmeans carving out a little time at the end of each day to tackle your inbox.And if you’re sitting on an email you know you can’t reply to for quite sometime, a quick “So sorry Bob, I’ll get back to you shortly” will go a long way.

5. Show up on time to meetings

Like it or not, meetings are a part of office life. But even if you loathe attending them, be a good coworker by arriving on time. Showing up late, especially on a consistent basis, sends the message that you don’t value other people’s time, which is an easy way to incur your colleagues’ wrath.

6. Only contradict your colleagues in private

In the course of your job, you’re bound to encountercolleagues with whom you disagree. And there’s nothing wrong with that,provided you voice your conflicting opinions in a private setting. Calling outyour coworkers in public is apt to embarrass them, so when you know you’re inthe right, share your insights one on one. Your colleagues will appreciate yourdiscretion, which will tie into the way they view you on a whole.

7. Give ample notice when you'll be out of the office

We all need time away from work, whether it’s to address personalmatters or take some much-needed vacation.But if you want to escape in a manner that impacts your colleagues the least,be sure to give your team members a healthy heads-up about your planned timeoff. This way, they’ll be less overwhelmed or caught off guard when they’resuddenly forced to cover in your absence.

8. Offer to back others up when they're away

Just as you deserve the occasional break from the grind, sotoo do your colleagues. But many employees struggle to take vacation becausethey fear their workloads will pile up in their absence, and they’ll fallbehind on deadlines. That’s why it’s important to be that person who offers toback others up as needed. Volunteer your time, and your colleagues and managerwill be sure to not only think highly of you, but potentially return the favor.

9. Thoroughly document tasks before handing them off

If you’re working on a project you know will eventually gethanded off to someone else, one of the kindest things you can do is documentits progress thoroughly. Doing so will help the person jumping in get a handleon things much more easily and avoid the stress that comes with taking overmid-assignment.

10. Be willing to do some of the grunt work

If you’re a senior associate who’s been with the samecompany for years, your days of making photocopies and booking conference roomsmay be long behind you. But if you see that your junior colleagues arestruggling, you’ll never go wrong by jumping in and taking some of the load offtheir shoulders. This sends the message that you’re not only helpful, but humble.

11. Give credit when it's due


Maybe you delivered an outstanding presentationthat got your management team’s attention. Tempting as it may be to take creditfor all of that work, if you know that several colleagues of yours contributeddata, graphics, or other tidbits, be sure to let that be known. Doing sobasically screams “team player,” which is something your coworkers will nodoubt admire.

12. Avoid gossip


Gossip is one of those things that’s hard to escape at theoffice. But if you make an effort to avoid it, you’ll come off as a much nicerperson in your coworkers’ eyes. The next time you find yourself pulled into agossip-ridden conversation, politely excuse yourself or insist on changing thesubject matter. After all, it’s what you’d want others to do if you were the topic of an unsavorydiscussion.

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