I wrote this post for Brazen Careerist in April 2013.
Even if you’ve managed to work out a virtual agreement with your workplace or you’re a full-time freelancer, chances are you’ve experienced the mixed blessing of coworkers at least once on your professional path.
Sometimes good, sometimes bad, the truth is that coworkers have a significant impact on job satisfaction. But did you ever stop to worry you might be a bad one?
Here are a few guides for staying on everyone’s good side:
1. Be nice all the time
We all get angry at work. But you aren’t necessarily paid to be a human being who experiences normal feelings like anger. You are paid to be a consistent, friendly expert in whatever industry you have chosen.
While you will no doubt have good and bad days, strive to present a positive front at all times (and at the very least in emails and meetings) to ensure you’re building a consistent and professional reputation. Coworkers need to know what they can expect from you to build relationships, because the alternative is the hot-and-cold office gremlin who takes his moods out on cubeville.
2. Gossip, but not too much
Gossip gets a bad rap in most office settings, and that’s fair because when done wrong, it turns a normally pleasant office into a world war. However, gossip is also a necessary and vital part of the office.
Business Week hits it on the head by pointing out that “the irony about workplace gossip is that it’s often about things that really matter to the company or team and should be addressed.”As a member of an office community, you should participate in discussions about office goings-on. Otherwise, you won’t be able to manage your reputation, defend those of other coworkers or possibly hear about what’s coming down the line. But if there’s too big a glint in your eye or you start to pant when the latest buzz hits the cubicles, chances are your heart is in the wrong place, and your reputation will suffer.
3. Share, but not too much
Much like gossip, the extremes of sharing can reflect badly on you. Share too much and you become someone people want to avoid or it’s an awkward case of gross TMI (too much information).
On the other hand, if you stay mum about your hobbies and interests, you become a mystery no one feels connected to. Toe the line by becoming known for a few harmless topics (coin collecting, running road races, baking) and being friendly whenever those topics come up.
4. Bring in treats
Finally, let’s be real. Food is the universal path to friendship and good feelings. Whether you make a mean boxed brownie or saw some Chips Ahoy! cookies on sale, bringing food into the office is a way to casually engage with coworkers and offer a token of peace. Here are a few great places to start.