While most people try to get along in an office, there will always be those who have trouble seeing eye to eye. But for better or worse, workers in an office are stuck with each other, and they may even have to spend more time with one another than they do with their own families. It is essential that employees get along, even if they would not be friends outside of work. Here are three things everyone can do to make working together easier.

  • Learn to listen. Not all of us are great listeners, so we have to practice. More often than not, we listen with the intention of responding, not with the intention of hearing what the other person actually says. Listening skills can be critical to healthy communication. When a co-worker voices an opinion or a concern, don’t automatically respond in a defensive way. Listen to what he or she said, repeat it back, and ask for clarification. Then say you will think about it and respond when you’ve reviewed the matter.
  • Remember basic etiquette. Other important social rules we often forget when we are in an uncomfortable situation are general etiquette and polite behavior. Being kind goes a long way, even if the person isn’t returning the gesture. Frequently the person will internalize the kindness and slowly change his or her approach as well. Say “please” and “thank you,” don’t raise your voice, and don’t automatically get defensive, and you’ll see big changes.
  • Find common ground. Even if co-workers don’t get along, they should make an effort. Unless their behavior is detrimental to production or personal safety, there is probably little recourse if people don’t like each other. But they may be able to find common ground. There is certainly something that they may have in common, so they should try to find out what that is. People love to share information about themselves, so the first step is asking questions and learning more about them.

The workplace, in some sense, is a second home. Ensuring co-workers are communicating and getting along will help ensure not only a peaceful work environment, but a constructive and productive one.

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