Making and keeping strong relationships is essential to all-around health and happiness. It should come as no surprise then that co-worker camaraderie is highly linked to personal job satisfaction. When you like the people you work with and feel supported, you view your job more positively. It’s easier to share your opinions, and feel valued for them, when you know your colleagues have your back.
Now that we’ve convinced you to invest in your work relationships, here are eight ways to actually do so:
Speak up—Laurie Gerber, head coach of Handel Group, stresses that you must express exactly how you feel and what is going on in your head to your co-workers. Be specific about what you need so that they do not have to guess. Often, it’s what you are not saying that gets in the way of growth opportunities. And if you’re grumbling in your head about someone, Gerber says you must confront that person before a small complaint becomes a major dispute.
Be flexible—If you constantly interrupt a colleague’s flow or interfere with their personal obligations because you expect them to bend to your preferred schedule, their morale will likely drop. Give advanced warning for long hours and set meetings with your colleagues’ preferences in mind.
Sound confident—Voice coach Roger Love believes that people judge your emotional state from how you sound. He suggests speaking loudly, clearly and evenly; limiting caveats; and finishing your sentences with periods, not question marks. Concise, clear communication shows clients and co-workers that you know what you want and can deliver the information efficiently.
Control your workload—If you attempt to prove your worth by continuously taking on more and more work, your colleagues will assume you’re willing and able to keep going at that pace. Over time, you’ll likely resent your co-workers for your office workhorse status. Try to be receptive to opportunities, but don’t become a doormat. Know what you can manage and speak to your boss when the workload is too much to handle in a regular workday.
Give credit—This one is so simple and so vital: Tell your co-workers they’re doing a good job when they’re doing a good job. Feeling appreciated is essential to career satisfaction and healthy work relationships. Acknowledging your colleagues will encourage them to give compliments, too.
Avoid burnout—If you’re not only working long hours inside the office but also putting in substantial time with co-workers outside the office, you are at high risk of burnout. Having happy hour with colleagues, playing for the company softball team or attending a work pal’s birthday party is fine, but there’s no need to do all three all the time. A break from your work life, and the people in it, is essential for healthy and productive collaboration.
Solicit feedback—Best-selling author Angela Duckworth says improvement and growth require knowing if you’re on track or missing the mark. She suggests asking supportive co-workers or mentors for feedback on a regular basis. Solicit suggestions for how you could have done a specific task (e.g., sales pitch, presentation, website redesign) better, and be sure to keep a thick skin. Opening yourself up to critique and being accountable shows your co-workers that you’re able to put the bigger picture before your own ego. Not only will they respect this approach, but they also may be inspired to do the same.
Be compassionate—Wharton professor Adam Grant says that in addition to being easy to work with, acting with compassion makes your co-workers feel safe and able to be more creative and collaborative. Kindness boosts your influence within a group and inspires others to also act with consideration.
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