Let’s face it: If you don’t get along with your co-workers, your 9 to 5 can be a waking nightmare. No matter how much you love your job, the relationship with your co-workers can make or break you day. No matter if you love your fellow employees or hate them, effective communication is the key to making it through to the end of the work day. Here are five ways to communicate effectively with your cubicle neighbors:
1. Be Respectful
Some of the biggest issues arise with co-workers because of a simple lack of respect. Any time you speak to a fellow employee, you should do so with fairness, dignity and respect. Remember that not everyone thinks that blond jokes are funny, co-workers may not understand your sarcastic wit and politics and religion are both topics better left untouched. It’s not enough to speak to people how you want to be spoken to; you’ve got to be mindful of others’ thoughts and feelings.
2. Listen Effectively
When most people are listening to someone else, they are deciding what they are going to say in return before the other person is finished with their first sentence. Try to break yourself of this habit when speaking to your co-workers. Effective listening is one of the first steps in positive communication. Really listen to what the other person is telling you, paraphrase and repeat back what they’ve said and only then should you offer your opinion or answer.
3. Don’t Stew
If the time comes that you have a disagreement with a fellow employee, don’t walk away and wait to settle things later. Disagreements should be settled immediately. If you let issues fester, you’ll quickly find that the issue takes on a life of its own, growing larger as the minutes pass. What could have been resolved quickly may never be fully resolved if you sit on the matter for hours or days.
4. Don’t Gossip
It’s human nature to take part in gossip around the water cooler but try to remember what Mom told you: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Gossip doesn’t get any kinder when we’re adults and, much like on the playground, what is said can easily be misconstrued and misinterpreted. If you can’t resist the urge to say something about a co-worker, make sure that it’s not something you would hesitate to say if they were standing right next to you.
5. Don’t Run to the Boss
When conflicts arise or ideas are tossed about, don’t run to the supervisor like your pants are on fire. Employees who approach the supervisor with every minor detail or issue quickly lose the trust of their co-workers. If a disagreement takes place, do your best to work it out on your own. If a co-worker has a great idea, don’t take it to the boss but encourage your co-worker to do so.
The next time you arrive at work only to wish that you’d stayed home in bed, ask yourself what part you are playing in the negative relationship with your co-workers. If your communication skills are lacking, the first person that you should work on changing is yourself. Only when you can communicate effectively can you begin to repair the relationships that you have at work and start to enjoy your days.
Tasha Newton writes for several educational blogs and suggests getting more information on a masters in communication degree.