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How to Be a Good Coworker: 13 Tips for Proper Office Etiquette

We often forget that the way in which we interact with our team is one of the most important parts of the job. Become a great coworker with these 13 helpful tips.

By Kate Dagher  •   August 4, 2021  •   8 min read

In order to enjoy work, it’s essential to develop strong relationships with the people you work with. This is especially true when you’re looking for a job or starting a new job. It’s important to understand how to be a good coworker so that you and your team can build strong working relationships. The stronger these relationships, the better your communication, your effectiveness, and productivity will be. 

Being a good coworker starts with simple acts of kindness, active listening, and having a positive attitude. Because being a good worker is part of proper office etiquette, Fellow has created the most important tips to implement in order to build stronger working relationships. Check them out below: 

13 Tips for being a good coworker 

1 Be appreciative 

Being appreciative means noticing the small acts of kindness that happen around the office. If someone takes the time out of their day to do something nice or to do something that makes your job a little bit easier, be sure to give thanks. This lets your coworkers know that their thoughtfulness, their time, and their efforts don’t go unnoticed, which reminds them that they are part of a supportive and appreciative team. When someone’s actions are recognized, they are much more likely to continue going beyond and above for their team members, because they know how much it’s appreciated and how likely these actions will be reciprocated. 

2 Be respectful 

Being respectful is a pillar of how to be a good coworker. Where you may not always want to be best friends with your colleagues or your boss, it’s extremely important to always be respectful. This means being respectful of other peoples’ time, efforts, feelings, and opinions. Make an effort to treat each person you work with respectfully, regardless of how much your views or personalities differ. There’s always a way to respectfully disagree with someone, without being rude or hurtful. Showing kindness to each person you work with and encounter at the office shows strong professionalism and leadership characteristics. Make sure to show others the respect that you would appreciate to be shown to you. 

3 Get to know people 

Sometimes, we instantly click with some of our coworkers. While it’s a great feeling to develop strong work relationships and even friendships at the office, make sure that you’re not closing yourself off from getting to know everyone. Building relationships and networking is not only great for having a lunch date but is also going to enhance and enrich your career. When you take the time to get to know people and show an interest in them, you create a solid learning opportunity for all parties involved. You never know when you may need some advice or support from someone with a different skillset to yourself- not to mention, it is nice to change up your usual lunch date every now and again.  

4 Don’t gossip or talk behind people’s back 

This one is pretty simple: don’t ever gossip or speak poorly about someone to other coworkers. This literally never ends well! While sometimes it’s tempting to share what goes on at work behind the scenes, your coworkers are not the right people to speak to about it. If you do engage in gossip, it tends to come back to you one way or another. This is going to make you appear as if you can’t be trusted and leave your coworkers worried as to what they can say to you. Speaking about people behind their backs to other coworkers will leave them on edge, wondering what they can tell you. Who’s to say you won’t share their details if you’ve shared other people’s info?  

5 Take accountability 

Taking accountability means that you have the ability to recognize that there is a duty to report on events, tasks, and experiences. It has to do with answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of reporting back on particular outcomes. Essentially, it is the way in which you choose to respond and take ownership of the results of a task that has been assigned to you. Taking accountability is the ultimate way of showing your commitment to your team and shows your coworkers that you take your responsibilities seriously. Accountable coworkers are team players and understand that their part is necessary for collective success. 

6 Communicate issues in a timely manner 

When you practice clear and effective communication, you’ll make your job and your team’s jobs a lot easier. Sharing issues in a timely manner, with as many details as possible, is going to allow collaboration amongst the team so that you can come up with a solution ASAP. Sitting on a problem and contemplating it for a few days is not effective and your coworkers will have wished they knew sooner so that they could have lent a hand. Open lines of communication ensure that you and your team members are completing tasks effectively and on time. Overall, your communication is central to being a good coworker. Your written communication, ability to read, and speak to others are pivotal to your effectiveness and overall team productivity. 

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to have a collaborative place to communicate issues or ideas before meeting for faster conflict resolution.

7 Be a team player 

Collaboration is key when it comes to being a good coworker. When you work on a team with people you know you can rely on, you’ll always feel less stressed because you know you can trust others, as you work towards achieving a common goal. When you’re able to share the workload with others, this also leads to a lot less burnout. Working as a team also means you’ll grow as an individual and improve problem-solving skills. Since you’ll have the chance to collaborate with different people on your team, this makes it possible for you to learn from their individual skills and competencies in order to understand their perspectives, as you work together to solve problems and innovate to accomplish organizational goals

8 Practice active listening 

It’s important to practice active listening in every aspect of your job. Of course, in meetings, we know that it’s important to listen actively and pay attention. Sometimes though, it’s important to be an active listener outside of the meeting room, such as when a coworker needs someone to hear them out. Whether your coworkers are looking for someone to hear their recent frustrations, successes, or simply for some advice, it’s really important to show your team members that you are willing to take time and make some space for them. A few ways to show the speaker that you are actively listening is through non-verbal communication, such as nodding your head, asking questions, or contributing comments. When you engage in these actions, you show respect for your coworkers, which will no doubt be reciprocated. 

9 Assume positive intent 

If something that a coworker has said or done upsets you, always assume positive intent. People are inherently good and don’t approach situations with malice. Even if someone has done something hurtful, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt before you begin pointing fingers. If it’s not something you feel like you can brush off, it’s best to confront the individual in an honest and kind way to let them know that a particular situation or scenario didn’t sit well with you. Being upfront and honest is part of being a good communicator, which is truly key when it comes to how to be a good coworker. 

10 Welcome new ideas

Welcome new ideas, especially ideas that are outside of the box. Sometimes, we get caught up in particular routines that we are comfortable with, which means that we rarely stray from what we’re used to. It’s always a good idea to change things up and hear what others have to say. If these new ideas have the potential to bring something special to the table, it’s well worth your time to encourage them. Often, new ideas can promote innovation, creativity, and collaboration amongst the team. Plus, it gets pretty boring doing the same things over and over again. Be sure to welcome these new ideas in a space where everyone feels comfortable to share their thoughts, opinions, and visions.  

11 Connect/network with other teams

Because it’s more comfortable, sometimes we only make an effort or spend time with people from our own team. While it’s great to create a strong bond with your own team, it’s also a great idea to broaden your horizons and get to know people from other teams and streams of the business. This is going to provide great networking and learning opportunities for you, as you get to know what goes on in other teams and what kinds of goals they work towards. When someone from another team needs some extra support, you can use your valuable skillset to help. As someone that other teams can go to for help, you demonstrate reliability and that you’re a good team player. 

12 Share and receive feedback

It’s just as important to share feedback with your coworkers as it is to receive it from them. This is a great opportunity to learn more about what you can work on, in a more informal way. Rather than waiting for your next performance review, you can begin to work on your skills bit by bit so that you are constantly learning, growing, and improving. Being a good coworker means understanding that there’s always room to do better for all parties involved. Accepting and implementing feedback from your coworkers is going to allow you to achieve your goals more seamlessly. 

13 Have a growth mindset 

Having a growth mindset means believing that your skills, abilities, and learning can be continuously developed and improved. A growth mindset means that you put effort into your everyday tasks and think about how you may be able to go over and above for your team. The types of individuals who are constantly asking what they can do next are those who already have a growth mindset. This growth mindset makes you a good coworker because you don’t simply tap out of your workday when you’ve completed what you’ve been assigned. Going over and above to achieve organizational goals is the ultimate team player move.   

Parting advice 

It’s really important to foster a positive work environment where your coworkers also operate as your professional support system. Individuals enjoy work a lot more when they have amazing coworkers to listen, teach, support and give feedback to them. While being a good team member starts with having a positive attitude, there are so many things that you can consider in order to be a valued coworker. Consider referring to these 13 tips on how to be a good coworker as you level up your role within the company. 

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