When you first started your career life, you might hear advice on how to treat your co-worker in the office. Some may come from the internet, others may come from seniors who are your friends as they already experienced the working life. Lots of keywords may also be saved to your brain, e.x. mutual respect, trust, open communication… You now feel like standing in the middle of the desert without a compass as all of these things seem to be hard to do it right away with a stranger. I found this problem critical with not only trainees and juniors but also seniors as well.

A market in New York — Photo by Alice

We all must accept the fact that we spend more time in an office than in our home, especially in Asia. It means that we spend more time with people we work than with the people we love and care about most. Therefore, colleagues are also strong ties. My own advice is not to separate yourSELF between work and home, make yourself comfortable whenever you are and treat your co-workers as your best friends and family.

Interacting with a new person is as hard as with a difficult person. Have you ever in the situation that when you meet somebody for the first time, shake their hands and say hello but something in the back of your brain says: “I am not gonna like this person”? Well, you are not alone. That’s the product of the fight-or-flight response — a physiological reaction designed for survival. There are many things may come up in your mind which guide you on how to label on and react to strangers.

Believe me or not, if you approach people with fear or doubt, they will feel it too. This was also the first lesson I got from a British lecturer in a Sales Management class at the University of Eastern Finland. It is not you to say about it but your eyes, voice, and reactions which are controlled by your brain system will tell them about that. Although we often do not have an opportunity to choose co-workers, we do have the right to decide how to treat them. People tend to see the differences between relationships such as colleagues, friends, and family but I prefer seeing them similar and balanced as all of these relationships are equally valuable which make up our full picture of life. We need them all to live life to the fullest.

Here are the top 5 pocket tips for your great office life:

  1. Always approach people with sincerity and confidence: Sometimes it is just hard to build a rapport with people, especially introvert or difficult ones but it does not mean impossible. To me, it is similar to a time when I had to persuade my angry parents to accept one of my decisions which was thought crazy and denied before. It is common that you have to do one thing several times until when you get it. If it is not the right time to do it, don’t do it. However, if you have to do it, then do it with full of sincerity and confidence as if it was your final chance.
  2. Keep your ideology clear: Your ideology at the workplace may be affected by many things such as rumors or gossips. You cannot keep your ears completely closed but you can choose to hear things selectively, verify the information by both observation and testing at least 3 times before making your pre-judgment. Besides, never let the negativity at the office let you down. If it is something affecting your teamwork, you will definitely want to share it with your supervisors. However, you should be empathic to allow sometimes for changes, especially in a big corporation.
  3. Be generous and helpful: If you treat your colleagues well, they will be a good resource for you and vice versa. It doesn’t necessary that you should do everything to make them like you but you should try the best to form a powerful bond by focusing on (1) listening, (2) sharing and exchanging, (3) recognizing and (4) encouraging your colleagues, starting from your key direct contacts for supports at work. If they ask for help when you are busy, you should be straight. However, you should always try to help whenever you can, be generous and helpful. Instead of “watching your back” all the time, you should be more open and honest in your thoughts and actions.
  4. Respect each person’s priority order and concerns: Have you ever in a situation that your boss rushed you to do a task but you got no response after you had emailed him the output? This is a typical example as we frequently encounter this situation at work and in daily life. Some people even use an email tracking system to track other’s activity. I also use this system just because I feel scared when my email goes to the trash or spam than being read without responses. Besides, as I take care of both Marketing and Sales and HR duties at work so I find it useful to follow up a lot of emails from clients and candidates per day to ensure that my emails reach to the right ones. The nice thing about this system is that it helps the recipient track the status of sent emails. However, many people are easily trapped by cognitive biases when they start labeling receivers as a liar when they said that they have not yet opened the email although they already opened it. Of course, you must push your colleagues when necessary so that they may work within the deadlines but it is also a “must” to put yourself in other’s shoes. It makes life much easier to stop comparing yourself with others and demanding them to act the same as you do.
  5. Keep your commitments: Everyone wants to be a reliable and effective person but this requires you to be highly responsible for what you promise to do. This rule applies to any social relationships, especially work relations. Entering in organizational life is the same as signing a marriage license in which your behaviors are interconnected with your partner. If you fail to meet deadlines and commitments, you affect the work of other co-workers. Always keep commitments, and if you can’t, at least make sure your boss knows what happened. Provide a new due date and make every possible effort to honor the new deadline.

To prevent work stress, it is significant to develop good and healthy relationships with your colleagues at work. Although a good relationship should be the efforts of both parties, you should always be the one to actively initiate it first. Think positive and smile as much as you can at work — you can learn this a lot from frontline employees working in Aviation, Tourism and Hospitality industry. It’s also important to remember that your family, friends or colleagues are humans so you need to equally care them well.

Perspectives on the future of work