Hi, Classy Career Girl readers I’m Jana and I run a personal finance blog, Daily Money Shot, where I talk about money (but not the boring parts). I’m also a freelance writer and founder of the blogger mentoring program, Bloggers Helping Bloggers (in which Anna is one of my fabulous mentors). I’m thrilled to be guest posting here and when you’re done reading what I have to say, come say hi on Twitter or Facebook!
In my 17+ years of part-time and full-time work, I’ve been employed in a variety of organizations. Nonprofit, government, private industry, retail…I’ve done it all. Some I’ve loved, some I’ve loathed. While I can tell you all of the things I have loved and loathed in each of those places, the factor that always had the most impact on me was my co-workers.
Co-workers make a huge difference in our work environments. These are the people that we collaborate with on projects, the people we eat lunch with, the people we travel with to trainings and conferences and the people we may commiserate about the boss or work with. I have had crappy jobs that were bearable due to amazing co-workers. I have also had what should have been fantastic jobs but were terrible due to bad co-workers. It probably has something to do with the fact that we often spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families. The moods and attitudes of the people you are around directly affects our days.
When I think back on all of the jobs I have had, I realize that I identify how much I liked or didn’t like the job based on who I worked with. Not who I worked for, but who I worked with. The more I think about my past jobs I realize that of the co-workers I didn’t like, they all had certain characteristics.
If you want your co-workers to like you, don’t do this:
- Gossip. It’s impossible to prevent gossiping entirely. People, when they get frustrated will complain, grumble or speak unpleasantly about the target of their frustration. People also like to share juicy details of a co-worker’s life because, well, some secrets are just too good to keep to ourselves, right? Wrong. If a co-worker trusts you as a friend and shares those intimate details, you have a responsibility to keep that to yourself. Don’t run and share it with your other co-workers. Instead of coming across as knowledgeable and friendly, you’ll come across as untrustworthy, mean spirited, and immature. That is not a way to gain respect or authority at work.
- Be miserable. Let’s face it. Most people don’t love going to work. Most people would love to have endless vacations or work in their pajamas at home. Most people wish they were independently wealthy or had a job making millions of dollars working only 3 months a year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Most of us have to go to work, often for someone else, in a job that we may not like. Some people are overworked and don’t make as much money as they would like to make. But, constantly complaining about your pay or your work doesn’t get sympathy. It gets really annoying fast and makes your co-workers want to stay far, far away from you.
- Elect not to participate in activities. I concede that socializing with your co-workers can be tricky. If you are like me, you have a “work” persona and a “personal life” persona. They’re not completely separate but I try to keep certain things about the way I behave outside of work from creeping into the workplace. When informal activities like potlucks or happy hours come up, it’s in my nature to let my guard down and act a little more like myself. But that’s dangerous because I run the risk of doing something I’d rather not do in front of co-workers. However, if I say no all the time, then I look rude, anti-social and kind of snobby. This can have detrimental effects both in terms of relationships with my co-workers and losing the opportunity to network with the “higher-ups.” To prevent being seen that way, I carefully weigh each situation before saying yes or no.
- Put all your work on someone else. This one is of utmost importance. I once worked with a guy who was masterful at getting other people to get his work. In meetings, he would act as the unofficial leader of our project groups and delegate tasks without ever giving himself one beyond scheduling the next meeting. Or he would feign ignorance or incompetence about getting certain tasks done, often saying “Well, you’re just so much better with that than I am” or “I defer to your expert knowledge”. It seems like an ego boost but in reality, it was him just passing off work he should be doing onto someone else. He was a nice guy but no one ever wanted to work with him because he didn’t pull his weight. Supervisors took notice because after 10 years in the same job he was passed up for numerous promotions. So not only did his co-workers resent him, but also he lost out on career advancement.
Sometimes we forget just how important the relationship with our co-workers can be. Often, it is the foundation of our mood at work and can even increase or impede our productivity. It’s essential to develop good, working relationships with our co-workers because, in the long run, those are the relationships that steer the course of our careers.