In your life, you will likely work with a variety of people in a variety of situations. There will be people you are excited to see the next day, and there will be people for whom you will be silently plotting their professional demise. The same will go for those around you. There will be people who love you and there will be people who dislike you. However, there are a number of ways you can maximize the number of positive interactions you have every day. Here are my top 5 tips for being a good coworker.
1. Start your day off right—smile!
Have you ever seen someone slouch in to work with a scowl on their face at 8 am? Yep, I’ve seen it, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done it once in a while. Strangely, people seem to avoid you when you start your day like that. As an executive assistant, you will often be the first person your executive sees. I know misery loves company, but so does happiness! If you are cheerful first thing in the morning, you’ll notice your day goes much more smoothly.
Being cheerful right off the bat can be hard for a number of reasons, a big one being the morning commute. The commute to work is often one of the tensest times of the day. You are trying to get to work on time. You are trying to avoid the person driving while putting on their makeup beside you. (I’ve even seen someone reading a book clipped to their steering wheel. Seriously.) You are trying to make it to work in one piece.
There are a number of things you can do to make your morning a bit calmer though so it’s a little easier to walk into work with a smile. Leave earlier than you normally would so you don’t have to drive like a maniac. Try listening to energizing music, a podcast, or a book on tape. Try to look for one example of someone doing some good in the world. These small things will go a long way to making your morning more pleasant.
2. Avoid gossip
This probably seems like a no-brainer. You don’t want anyone gossiping about you, right? Right! Why would you want to do that to anyone else? You don’t. Don’t do it.
Office gossip is like a wildfire—once it gets going, it’s really hard to stop. If someone approaches you and starts to gossip, just smile and say “Really?” and then change the topic. They’ll get the point eventually that you aren’t interested in hearing what’s going on. It will help you be a happier person—trust me.
As an executive assistant, you’ll be privy to a lot of private information about your executive(s). Never, ever, ever, ever gossip about that information. You must have the utmost integrity when it comes to keeping private information private. Being good at keeping private information private could mean the difference between keeping and losing your job.
3. Respect your coworkers’ time
Fine-tuning your social interaction skills can really help you be an awesome coworker. If you can tell your coworker is busy working on something, don’t hang around their cube or desk waiting to talk to them unless it’s a definite work emergency. If they aren’t engaging in a conversation right then, it’s likely that you’ll want to check back another time when they aren’t so busy.
Another good idea is to have a “lunchtime=no work” rule. If you approach someone on a work-related topic and you find them eating lunch, it’s best to just walk away and find them later on in the day. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to ask someone to help you out when they are trying to enjoy those leftover enchiladas.
4. Practice the principle of common courtesy
There is nothing more awkward than walking down the hall and smiling warmly at someone while they look at you stone-faced with no response. If someone says hello to you, look them in the eye (non-creepily) and say hello back. If your coworker is in the lunchroom waiting for their food to be done too, try a little small talk.
Also, don’t be the jerk that leaves a tuna fish sandwich in the fridge for a month or dishes in the lunch room sink. In that same vein, don’t eat someone else’s food from the fridge. It’s a good rule of thumb to never eat anything you didn’t buy yourself. You definitely don’t want to be labeled the “food thief” of the company.
5. Don’t talk down
It is always best to assume your co-workers are at the same intellectual level as you. Speak to them like you are their peer, not someone better than them. Don’t be condescending. They will be more likely to ask for help and offer help if they know you don’t think you are better than them. Everyone has a unique set of circumstances, and they deserve the same respect you give to your executives. By giving respect, you will get respect in return.
These are just a small sampling of things you can do to be a good coworker, but hopefully they get you pointed in the right direction! Let’s all work on being better co-workers, okay?
What tip would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!