Friday, February 8, 2008

How to Get Along with People at Work

No workplace is perfect. Some are better than others. All have people who don't get along.

How we get along with our coworkers has an effect upon the quality of our personal relationships outside of work. People who develop and maintain productive rapport in the workplace tend to enjoy better relationships outside of work.

We spend more of our waking hours interacting with our coworkers than with anyone else. Our work relationships have more time to shape our attitudes and affect the general state of our emotional fitness than any other single relationship. And, given enough time, even the most bizarre relationships become accepted as being ordinary.

The bad news is that, if left unchecked, difficult personalities multiply as fast as laboratory mice on fertility pills, especially during turbulent times in a company. A healthy work environment can become contaminated and counterproductive. Intimidation, fear, and anxiety are the personalities that await you each day at work. And if that's not bad enough, trying to get along with these people can create enough anxiety and stress that you will carry it home and into your personal lives.

The good news is that there are practical ways of getting along with almost anyone. This includes people who are so obnoxious that their mere presence can be emotionally draining.

Here are some practical tips for everyone:


Communicate. Give your associates your undivided attention when you are talking to them. Be accessible. Never demean. Be willing to discuss frankly any sensitive issues that may need attention. Always keep confidences confidential.

Stand by your associates. Cheer for them when they do well, encourage them when they are struggling, and stand by them when they are being criticized by those who are higher up or lower down on the totem poll.

Show appreciation. A sincere expression of your appreciation to your peers and subordinates will do more for your workplace relationship, and job productivity, than perhaps any other single thing can do. Never underestimate the value of a simple "Thank you" in welding together relationships that will withstand great trials.


Be an ally. Everyone has enough foes and enemies to keep them on guard. When your peers consider you to be their ally, they will let down their guard and become more open to you. And make no mistake about it: just one ally can help you succeed in situations where you could fail on your own.

Don't quibble. It is far more common for a relationship to break down over continual petty bickering than as a result of a heated disagreement over things that really matter. Therefore, arguments with your peers should be reserved for matters of consequence. And when all has been said that really needs to be, let go and move on.

Compete fairly. Peers compete with each other in the workplace. People who compete fairly and win fairly earn the respect of their peers. Although it is often said that "winning is everything," no prize is more valuable than your dignity.


Do your job. Nothing will endear you more to your manager or coworkers than simply doing your job and doing it well. Be dependable. Be thorough. And never overlook the fact that being good at your job is the quickest way to climb any career ladder or achieve personal goals.

Be cheerful. A cheerful attitude attracts people to you and gets a lot of your shortcomings overlooked. No one likes a contrary personality, but virtually everyone appreciates those who bear their trials well. And don't be a burden to your manager.

Abide by the rules meant to be obeyed. The reality is, that when you break the rules, it causes other people to have to rein in your behavior, and usually lands you in the penalty box.


Be the happiest person in the place. How do you overcome the inevitable drag on your spirits of doing tasks you hate but that have to be done? Simply this: reward yourself at the end of the day. If you have to do something you don't like, I mean really hate, be especially nice to yourself later that day. The same day. Go buy yourself a new tennis racket, have dinner out (no, not Burger King or Captain D's), get a cup of coffee at Barnes and Nobles and settle in with a good book for a couple of hours, or whatever mad and whimsical delight that strikes your fancy at the moment. Reward yourself.