How to get along with coworkers in the workplace

Become a better employee and person in the process

Kaitlyn Jorgensen
Staff Writer

Chances are your first job in college won’t be particularly glorious.

With only a high school diploma, your options are very limited. Your choices range from retail to customer service, child care, nursing home care or fast food. One thing that all of these jobs have in common is that you’re going to have to learn to work with people. However, sometimes your biggest battle isn’t with the people that you work for, it’s the people that you work with.

The first step to being a good coworker is understanding. Your coworkers range from all different backgrounds. Some may come from different cultural, socio-economic, and family backgrounds. What may be acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to you and you must learn how to see things from their perspective if you had the same life experience as them.

An example of this is when my manager asked me to train in a new employee at my job. I asked her to sweep the floor and she stated, “I don’t know how.” To me, this was mind blowing. I couldn’t fathom a life where I had never been asked to sweep a floor. I patiently showed her how and as we worked I got to know her better. She had come from a wealthy (and very strict) upbringing. This was her first job and it was incredibly important to her because she moved out of her parent’s house in order to be more independent.

Secondly, be approachable. I have worked with several people that were entirely unapproachable. Even when I had questions starting out, I was too terrified to ask them. This made it difficult for me to complete my tasks correctly which led to more confusion and frustration from all parties involved. In my job, I strive to be the most approachable employee in the workplace. I tell my coworkers all the time, “If you’re confused, just ask! I don’t bite.” Or, “The only stupid questions are those left unasked.”

While you work on being approachable, also be firm and stand your ground. Don’t be afraid to go against the status quo or say no to doing something you believe breaks company policy. If you believe a coworker is breaking protocol or acting irresponsibly, that doesn’t give you leave to do the same things. Taking an extra five minutes on your breaks because “everyone does it” may not put you in a better position than them to be promoted.

Be careful and wary before adding coworkers on social media and spending time with them outside of work. I am not trying to discourage you from making friends; however, know that while you are in the workforce you need to remain amiable and professional towards each other at all times. Never let your personal opinions of a coworker inhibit you from doing your job. Always be prompt, clean and professional. If you have an issue with a coworker, try to confront them directly and resolve it first before reporting it to a higher authority. Many times people may not realize something they’re doing bothers you.

Follow these rules and you will be well on your way to being a fantastic coworker and an even better employee at your job. Your ability to get along well with others will help you out in many situations in life and not just while you’re at work.

Photo: (CC BY 2.0) by illustir

Gabe Hewitt

Gabe is a junior mass media student at MSU. He's usually up for anything. You can find him on Twitter (@gabehewitt) or you can email him at gabriel.hewitt@mnsu.edu.

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