We can confidently say that the more you like your coworkers, the more you like your job. Working in a positive environment and being surrounded by people you enjoy— and who feel the same about you—lends itself to success, and offers general good vibes. Who wouldn’t want to be the person that everyone in the office enjoys working with?
However, it’s easy to slip into bad workplace habits, especially during times of high-stress (or in the dead of winter). To help combat those moments of office weakness, we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips to be the best coworker you can be. Success at work is closer– and easier– than you think.
It sounds silly and cliche, but simply by smiling and giving off good energy, your coworkers are immediately going to warm up to you. Even if you don’t know everyone in the office, if you make eye-contact, flash a smile instead of awkwardly looking away.
Science proves that smiling raises your endorphin levels and is contagious– so not only will you make yourself happier and more productive at work, your happiness can be infectious.
2. Keep your workspace neat.
No one likes clutter, especially when it’s not their own. A messy desk not only makes you less productive — time is wasted searching for things, it is harder to focus on one task– but it can raise your anxiety level and the anxiety of people around you. Organization also makes your workspace more attractive, which can help start, and keep, workplace friendships.
3. Talk—but not too much.
Don’t be afraid to start casual conversations at work– ask your coworkers questions about their life and get to know them. If you know they had big plans over the weekend, ask how they went. If you overheard them talking about a new restaurant they tried, as for their opinion.
Just make sure you’re facilitating chatter at the right times– during lunch, in the elevator, after a meeting lets out. If your coworker is obviously busy or everyone in the office is working diligently, that’s probably not the right time to bring up the date you went on last night.
4. Respond to emails quickly.
Obviously there are times when we all get swamped, but when possible, respond to emails right away, especially if your co-workers’ productivity depends on your response. If you don’t have time to send a lengthy or detailed response right away, tell your co-worker that. Something like “hey, I got your email, I’m not ignoring you, just swamped—can we reconnect tomorrow morning?” goes a long way.
5. Avoid anything that causes people to small you from three feet away.
Going heavy on the perfume is a big office don’t. A modest spritz is fine, but it’s inappropriate to douse yourself in a scent—even if it’s expensive—that your colleagues have to smell all day long. Smells are relative: How would you feel if your cubicle-mate splashed himself in Drakkar Noir every day?
Likewise, take it easy on regular eating overly pungent foods in an enclosed space.
6. Pull Your Weight.
This seems like another obvious one, but it doesn’t hurt to hear again. No one likes a slacker, or someone who just slides by. The person that everyone wants to work with is someone who is proactive and responsible.
They don’t need to be reminded to get things done (or to get them done on time), and the work that they do is thorough and thoughtful.
7. Dress Well—and appropriately.
The cliche “dress for success” exists for a reason. The way you dress directly reflects how you feel about yourself and correlates with the attitude and demeanor you have at work. Also, if you look professional and put together, your co-workers are going to perceive you that way. If you look sloppy and messy, your appearance could have a negative effect on your work-life.
If you’re still unclear, check out these 9 fashion choices that can get you fired.
8. Chocolate! Cupcakes! Cookies!
We aren’t implying that you should buy the affection of your coworkers, but everyone could use a mid-day pick up. Why not be the one to provide it every now and then? If you’re running out for a coffee, why not pick up some donuts for your team once a month? If you baked at home last night, bring the leftovers to work. Trust us, the gesture won’t go unnoticed.
9. Don’t Be The Office Gossip.
No matter how much Jessica from accounting annoys you, keep it to yourself. Nothing hurts office relationships or your reputation more than being the girl that talks crap all the time. Don’t talk about any of your coworkers to another coworker. If you have a serious complaint about someone you work with, go to your boss directly and discreetly.
No one likes to be publicly singled out or to hear that they are being talked about behind their back. Also, if a coworker tells you something in confidence, respect that, don’t spread it.
10. One Word: Coffee.
If you have the time, volunteer to do a coffee run every now and then. Don’t make it a huge deal, just quickly mention to your co-workers that you’re running out to get coffee and ask them if they want any. Odds are, they will.
Volunteering to get something or do something generally sets a nice tone between coworkers, and you can bet the favor will be returned.