How to avoid sitting alone at the lunch table…

17 Apr 2013 | Naomi Marshall

You can drown your career ambitions simply by the actions you take and the behaviours you display while you are at work. It doesn’t matter if you are the owner of a company or the receptionist, if you went to university or not, or how many years’ experience you have under your belt, if you can’t mix well with others you will never fulfill that career dream!

So why build effective work relationships? Relationships are your pillars for success, job satisfaction and future career plans. They form the basis for your promotion, pay increases and self-goal attainment. At the end of the day, work takes up a good portion of our lives therefore this is important for your overall sanity. I’m not saying that you have to be BFF’s with your co-workers but to make the day go by smoothly, it’s wise to be on good terms with them.

So how do you make sure you play well with others? Here are a few tips to help you gel well with fellow employees to create a positive, empowering and motivational environment for others.

  • Don’t ever play the blame game. It’s very easy to blame others for mistakes and to alienate and “pass the buck” on to a co-worker. Honestly, you might think you are looking good in your manager’s eyes but you are certainly creating enemies for yourself. These enemies will in turn help you to fail – you need allies not enemies.
  • Take a look at your style of communication – are you too direct? Talking down to an employee or always answering with sarcasm doesn’t project positivity. Speak with empathy and warmth, and instil trust in others.
  • Solve problems. Rather than always being that guy/girl that identifies problems – be that person that comes up with the solutions and remain positive about achieving them. The team will love you for it!
  • Don’t hesitate to be friendly. This may sound obvious but a little smile and a hello to your co-workers goes a long way. Remember certain things about each individual and show an interest in their life outside of their role, things like “How are the two kids?” or “Did you win your match at the weekend?” Even if you have nothing to talk to them about, reaching out even a little bit will let them know that you’re not being aloof because you feel “above” them.
  • Share the credit with others for accomplishments, ideas and contributions. How often you have met a tight deadline without the help of anyone else???  I can tell you now that the answer is never. Take the time to thank members of your team for their input even if all they did was organised the catering for a late night meeting. This is a no-fail approach to building work relationships, everyone remembers when they are praised and/or appreciated.
  • Don’t gossip. Even if you hear that the CEO is having an affair with is PA…. as hard as it is to keep it to yourself – do just that! “Treat others as you would like to be treated” has been instilled in everyone from a young age – why lose this trait now? Why risk losing your job as a result of slander?
  • Keep your word. If you have committed to a project or to a deadline then ensure that you deliver what you promised. The other party is relying on you to assist them with their work. There is nothing worse than being let down constantly by the same person and it will affect the work of others. Be open and honest, if you can’t adhere, propose a new timeframe and make every possible effort to honour the new deadline.
  • Attend social and team events. Of course there are occasions that you will have other commitments but always being the one that has an excuse not to go gets tiring. You may not love karaoke or bowling but your absence will be noted (by management and other staff) and may give off the impression that you are not a team player.

While some of these tasks may sound trivial, I guarantee that if you make that little bit of an extra effort, it will not be forgotten. You will mesh well with others, develop true work relationships and will exhibit the right attitude to your bosses. It shows you play on the right team and are committed to the company’s goals. Who knows you may even start to enjoy work and have a little fun!

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