How to Be the Best Co-Worker You Can Be

We all have those colleagues – the one you could never stand, the quiet one, the obnoxious one, the one who ate smelly food at his desk… If you have to work with others, try to be remembered fondly by adopting some or all of these tips.

Use common courtesy

You don’t need to be told this, but say “Hi!” back to people, welcome new workers and ask how they’re settling in. Do a coffee run once in a while and hold doors open. No-one’s asking you to donate a kidney here, just be pleasant. Good manners can turn that office space in Liverpool Street into a mini-paradise.

Communicate effectively

Work out your colleagues’ preferred method of communication and use it for most of your interactions with them. Some people prefer the phone, others like email and some even like to talk.

Try to help yourself first

If you’re using a new system, read the manual first, then if you’re still perplexed, call for help. Even if you only partially understand it, the fact you didn’t holler for help immediately puts you in good stead for the times you’re really stuck.

However, if someone’s paid to do techie stuff, leave it to them. You think you’re helping, they think you’re treading on their toes.

Be social media-savvy

Most companies have strict social media policies and you should abide by them – no racist, sexist or hateful comments, links or images. Imagine your CEO is watching over your shoulder. Often it’s better to network with past and present colleagues through sites like LinkedIn rather than Facebook.

Be honest, open and kind

We all love a good gossip, but rumours can poison a workplace faster than that long-dead cheese sandwich at the back of the fridge. Don’t get involved with gossip and maybe gently remind people that gossiping can have unpleasant consequences.

Don’t whine

Everyone gets stressed at work, but save your complaints for the people who are either paid to listen or have to live with you. If there’s a real problem, take it upwards, don’t gripe to people below you.

Welcome new workers

Just be friendly – you’ll always be remembered as “…the first person who took me for coffee…” and this counts for a lot. Especially if that new hire ends up as your line manager five years later. Even if they don’t, you’ve made a work chum.

Own your errors

Everyone messes up. Fact. If you can hold up your hand and face it, you’re only halfway there. The tricky bit is when it’s someone else’s fault and you have to decide what to do.

What you don’t do is dob them straight in. Talk to your colleague and encourage them to go to the boss as soon as possible. Offer to back them up if you think you can, and offer an explanation or a mitigating circumstance or two. Offer to hold a brainstorm to see if similar mistakes can be avoided in the future – this often pours oil on troubled waters.Click here for more information on brainstorming techniques.