4 Ways to Improve Coworker Relationships

Having great coworkers makes every workday better. But, since coworkers are kind of like family members in that you (usually) don’t get to pick with whom you work, there’s bound to be some personality clashes periodically. Since positive employee interactions are what drive organizations forward, companies tend to make big investments in creating morale-building opportunities, but let’s be honest. How many of us see *employee development day* as the perfect vacation or personal day?

Some organizations do these rah-rah-rally type of events well, and others not so much. But you don’t need an expensive, time-consuming day made up of team building (with questionable effectiveness). Tech Republic compiled a list of things which an improve coworker relationships that are simple and free.

1. Courtesy

Something as simple as saying “hello” in the hallway to fellow coworkers can go a long way in creating a company culture that’s constructive and helpful. Being able to refer to people by their first name adds to that feeling of company-wide comradery, as do other factors. Like making sure you clean out any potentially-stinky things from the communal fridge, cleaning your dishes and not leaving them in the sink, tossing your K-Cup and not leaving it in the machine…you know. Those kinds of courteous things.

2. Effective Communication

Consider how your coworkers seem to want to receive communication. Are they never online via IM? Probably a sign to pick up the phone to ask a question. If email is the gold standard (as it seems to be at most places nowadays, since it’s a bridge between older and younger generations), make sure to utilize helpful subject lines, only cc folks who *need* to be in on the conversation, and be as brief as possible.

3. Respect

It sounds basic, but it’s not. Everyone at your organization has something to offer; whether it’s in the form of knowledge, skillset, responsibilities, etc. (like how it’s always good to make friends with the IT help desk). Treat everyone with respect, not only for what services they may be able to provide to you in the future, but because it’s the right thing to do, and helps build bridges between departments. Which is especially important in silo’ed organizations.

4. Contribute

If you have a question, check out the appropriate resources (manuals, wikis, SharePoint sites, wherever your organization shares knowledge) before taking up someone’s time with a question that has a resource devoted to it. Someone—very possibly the person to whom you plan on sending your question—developed those resources for a reason. That reason is to avoid questions like yours. Help them by learning to help yourself.

In the same vein, don’t be the person who would rather complain about everyone and everything without working toward a solution. If there is something you can do to fix it, do it. If not, address it through the proper channels. Venting is a natural thing, but constant complaining is deconstructive.


These seem pretty straightforward, right? Bordering on common sense? Well, as we all know all too well, common sense isn’t always that common. To build better working relationships, start bringing a consistent presence of courtesy, communication, respect, and contribution. You’ll improve coworker relationships around you and, due to the mirroring effect, unconsciously influence others to do the same.

What tips do you have to improving coworker relationships?