The professional environment continues to shift in the 21st century. From cubicles, to shared space, from working in an office, to working from a distance. One constant throughout it all is that most people work alongside colleagues. Coworkers can be a source of joy or pain depending on how you view these relationships. Here are some of my thoughts on how you can connect with your colleagues every day.
1. Be present.
The idea of ‘water cooler talk’ is rarely relevant in today’s office setting, yet the need is the same. Humans are communal; we crave connection. The co-worker who sits at their desk with their head down, looking angry anytime someone interrupts, is rarely seen as the ideal coworker. Being present with your coworkers creates a powerful atmosphere beneficial for productivity. Taking the time to ask how someone is or to vent about a wall you hit in a project, helps us to accept the struggles of the day rather than seemingly fighting alone in a big corporate world. Connecting with others make challenges easier to handle and being present is a simply way to do so.
2. Ask “How can I help?”
Everyone faces encroaching deadlines with the need to make a final push to complete a project in time. What has been a breath of fresh air for you during such a time? For me it’s when a colleague comes over asking a simply question, “How can I help?” If you have time at the moment and your coworker is struggling, jump in there to ask how you can help! We all need support sometimes. Maybe the next time you are pushing, someone else can step alongside to help you.
3. Share what you are learning
The pursuit of profits can create an environment where people become consumed with the task at hand. In this atmosphere, learning new skills can take a back seat to day-to-day productivity. Learning new concepts, skills, and perspectives help people solve problems better. I love sharing articles that have impacted me with others, for it gives me a chance to discuss an idea that excites me and have connection over it. This also gives others a chance to take a break or learn something new themselves. When we stop learning, we cease our ability to grow as an employee, colleague, and person, hurting ourselves and our companies.
4. Be a friend
Colleagues can also be friends. Honestly, I prefer all my colleagues to be friends. This means sharing life with them, talking about my family or what I am doing for the weekend. Business doesn’t have to be all business for we are communal beings, as mentioned in section one. The perspective that people can keep life and work completely separate is simply untrue. Rather than act like superman/woman, we can connect with others and maybe find a friend we never expected in the process.
I’ve heard clients complain about their coworkers not being what they desire. As a coach, my job is not to fix a problem, but to present a different perspective. The question I pose to my clients is simply one I present to you today, what type of colleague are you in your office?