Your Guide to Being a Coworker People Love to Work With

Your Guide to Being a Coworker People Love to Work With

Wanting to be recognized as a great coworker is much more than being well liked around the office. It’s about being an effective member of a team and someone that people enjoy collaborating with.

I bet you’ve encountered someone that was difficult to work with. Whether they had a negative attitude or never seemed to respond to your emails. Or, they were competitive within the workplace to a level of hostility. Let me ask you, how do you feel about that person?

Would you recommend them? Would you want them to be a member of your team? Would you look forward to opportunities to work with them in the future?

I’m guessing your answer is, no. That is exactly why it is just as important to develop a good relationship with your coworkers as it is your boss or those above you.

And while you can earn some brownie points walking in Monday morning with donuts in your hand –there are even better ways to make a lasting impression on those you work with (just, maybe not quite as delicious).

Be collaborative and open to others ideas

For many of us, our jobs require us to collaborate and work with our coworkers to drive projects forward or accomplish something.

That’s why those dreaded group projects were forced upon us in college. Can you tell I wasn’t the biggest group project fan?

There tends to always be someone in the office that is a little bit of a negative Nancy. They resist change and you may hear phrases come out of their mouth, like:

“This is the way we’ve always done it.”
“I don’t see how that will work.”
“Good luck, trying to get that approved.”

Lesson learned: Keep an open mind. Is every idea a game changer? No, but don’t shoot them down without discussion or consideration.

You’ve got to be a team player when it’s called for and remember that companies and the way they do things are always evolving.

Give credit where credit is due

There’s been a lot times in my career I’ve gotten praise for something I could have easily taken all the credit for, but didn’t.

If there was someone that helped me make it happen I always interject and mention the role a coworker played in making it a success. Remember, to give your coworkers credit for a job well done when they deserve it.

I’m guessing you would want them to do the same for you. I truly see it as a win-win; your boss will recognize it as a professional trait.

Speak their language

Everyone has their own way of working. Some people would prefer you pick up the phone and give them a call, while others would like you to just shoot them an email.

If you pay attention to their cues you’ll start to notice what their preferences are. When I can, I like to communicate with a coworker in the ways they prefer.

For instance, I worked with someone that every time I sent them an email my phone would be ringing two minutes later. I quickly realized they felt more effective when they could talk through the topic and discuss it over the phone. So I stopped sending emails, and started picking up the phone when I needed to reach out to them.

They may not realize it directly, but if you start being flexible in the way you approach and communicate with your coworkers they’ll take notice.

You know when you hear someone say, “Oh, Jen? She’s so great to work with!” This is one of those finite details of how you work with others that will get you closer to being that type of coworker.

Lend a hand

Help a sista out every once in a while! Or, a dude –no discrimination here.

Do not, I repeat do not be the person that utters: “That’s not my job.” Actually, I advise avoiding this mentality all together. Literally no one likes to hear that. Not your boss, not your coworkers, not your Mom.

“Do you need any help with that?” is something I say to members of my immediate team on the regular.

Offer a helping hand if you see a coworker is in need or you have the extra bandwidth. One of these days you’ll need a favor too.

Avoid office “Mean Girl” tendencies

Regina Georges of the work world exist, my friend. And you don’t want to be one of them.

Because while it may seem like they’re getting ahead initially with tactics like, brown nosing the boss or “forgetting” to include you on an important email–it will catch up with them.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret, if they feel it’s necessary to play those sneaky tricks it’s usually because they are insecure about what really matters: their skills, experience or capabilities.

Opt for helpful feedback over criticism

There will be instances where you’ll be asked to give feedback about a coworker. Whether they ask you themselves or you want to offer some words of advice. Which is cool, it’s part of collaborating and improving our skills, but you can come off constructive or as a critic.

Be thoughtful in how you phrase your words. If they are asking for honest feedback, commend them for something they did well while mentioning something they could improve upon.

Play nice

For real, don’t be a mean girl (although I a have hunch you’re not). Clawing your way up the corporate ladder isn’t a pretty picture and you can burn a lot of bridges.

There are some horror stories out there of coworkers out to sabotage their peers. From purposefully withholding information, throwing someone under the bus, or constantly gossiping behind their back.

You don’t want the reputation of the rumor mill queen, the girl that gives backhanded compliments or the lover of office drama.

Let your work shine through and don’t overshadow it with behavior reminiscent of high school.

Be thoughtful 

The coworkers that I would recommend in a heartbeat? The one’s that I genuinely want to hear about how their weekend was?  Those that I’ll miss when we no longer work together, whatever that reason may be?

The ones that have showed genuine thoughtfulness outside of the day-to-day tasks of our jobs. And, those I’ve done the same for.

The day after I told my coworkers I was engaged. I walked in the next morning to find a bouquet of flowers, a notebook and bridal magazines strewn across my desk. How AH-mazing is that?

Don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gesture or handwritten thank you. The little details are some of the things that can take you from someone people like to work with, to someone they love to work with.


What would you say the qualities of a rock star coworker are?