You have all probably heard of the saying “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family….” Well, the same could be said of your colleagues. We don’t all have the luxury of working from home or inheriting exuberant wealth, and generally we have little say in with whom we work. Being able to have fun at the office or at least have a healthy working relationship with your colleagues is in your best interests- office life can be pretty tough if you don’t get along with your colleagues. So how can you create a positive workplace? Well, the keyword here is INVEST- invest in diplomacy, invest in people skills, invest in office etiquette and invest in your health. How? I’ll tell you.
It might just be that you share the office building with some of the most boring colleagues to ever walk the earth. And let’s be honest- you can’t just quit in these times, not when there a jobs being cut all around the world. Your option therefore is to instigate good will, invest in relationships and your work environment will become somewhat more of a breeze.
There are a couple of ways of doing this. Have fun with your colleagues is one. Don’t by shy and join in on the jokes and the laugh. This creates a friendly atmosphere which gives way to ready cooperation. A good way to start.
Whatever you do, stay out of personal issues. You can get along fine with colleagues without having to talk about sensitive or personal matters. Stick to professional work related topics and avoid discussing topics such as religion, politics and your personal relationships. Many people consider these topics very personal and prefer to leave them out of the workplace.
In an office place you’ll usually encounter two types of gossip. The first one is the office grapevine which consists of the informal channels through which news about a company travels. Pay attention to that gossip, as there might be something useful in it- but leave it at that. The other kind of gossip has a more personal note to it. It usually has got to do with spreading untrue or true information about other peoples’ lives. You don’t want to get tangled up in that one. Make sure to be diplomatic and democratic towards all your colleagues. I know, it’s hard to mingle if you’re the only smart person in the office, but you have got to be very tactful when you’re for example discussing work-things as a team. Ask for colleagues’ opinions and show that you accept different views. Respect your colleagues for who they are and respect their input.
When lunch time is finally there, be sure to take a walk, get out of the office and away from it all for half an hour. The purpose of lunch breaks are -apart from filling your stomach- to give you a break from your colleagues. You already spend at least 7 hours together- that 30 minutes break is a must.
The office water coolers are a great little escape as well that will break the monotony of the work, but also give you the chance of socialising with your colleagues on the way there or back. So next time you go, take your time. Allow your brain to reboot, stop and smell the roses and chat with someone along the way before heading back to your desk.
Of all the trends that come and go, the Feng Shui trend should stick around. Your colleagues might not be in to it, but you can control your immediate desk area with a few calming Feng Shui remedies. A plant on your desk does wonders as well, as does some photo’s of family or friends.
According to Daniell Morissey, a well known career writer, in theory everyone is able to get along 100% with colleagues, even the ones they don’t like. But he also admits that it’s “not for everyone.” It would be perfect if you did get along with everyone you work with, but in reality, that’s not going to happen. There will always be colleagues with whom you just don’t click. And that’s fine, as long as you keep the working relationship professional and clean. For all your other colleagues: try, put in the effort and you’ll see that they are only human too- just like you.