How to Build a Good Relationship With a Coworker

Some days it seems like you spend more time at work than at home. So it’s imperative to build a good relationship with the people you spend up to 40 hours a week interacting and working with. Building a good relationship with a coworker is an investment in your well-being. It can mean the difference between a productive, satisfying work experience and a miserable existence. Communication is key when building a good relationship with your coworker.


    • 1

      Understand from the get-go that you’re two different people. Make an effort to get to know your coworker. Glean what you can from her past story to help you understand the way she is today. Navigating the complexities of a personality is easier when you don’t make assumptions based on outward appearances, quirks or communication skills.

    • 2

      Practice respect. Knowing about your coworker’s background and likes or dislikes won’t mean anything unless you aim to respect the differences between you. Turn down the music if she prefers to work in silence; or negotiate a compromise that allows both of you to enjoy the atmosphere that is most conducive to your productivity for a portion of each day.

    • 3

      Listen to your coworker. Turn away from your work for a minute so she knows you’re not just brushing her off with a hurried "yeah, yeah." If a work problem arises and she needs your help, tackle it together to the best of your ability, or hand it over to a supervisor for an expert opinion. Listen to your coworker's personal stories, but if it looks like it’s going to be a lengthy blow-by-blow account of the previous evening’s antics, suggest that she save the story for your break.

    • 4

      Regard your coworker’s approach to her day as her own choice. As is true with personalities, people’s work ethics tend to differ. Tend to your own responsibilities and let your coworker conduct her business as she sees fit. You may prefer to tackle your work early in the day, while she may need to wind up to a flurry of activity. Don’t judge how or when she does her job. Mind your own business in order to build a good relationship with a coworker.

    • 5

      Speak honestly with your coworker over any issues that might crop up. Sitting in silent annoyance just perpetuates a rift that can so easily be mended with honest communication. Nip any unpleasantness in the bud before it affects your working relationship. Talk it out and then put it to rest.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a difficult coworker who lashes out or who intentionally tries to provoke you, the best way to cope is to learn what triggers her anger and the most effective way to respond. Don’t fuel the fire with emotion. Prepare a stock answer that will render her ire ineffective. If she can’t get your goat, she’ll likely walk away and try someone else.
  • In some cases, there is no way to get around your differences with a coworker. Ask to be moved to another workstation if possible rather than becoming embroiled in drama or irritation.
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