Train in Vein

Getting Along At Work

It’s difficult to get along with people. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them and sometimes it’s the situation. The only constant is that we need to work at it just about all of the time. This is what makes us gravitate toward friends that are easy for us to get along with. This is what can make family drive us crazy, as we do NOT get to choose them. Thankfully with family there are enough common threads (like, as in those double helix threads- DNA), history and love to make it worth the work.

Speaking of work, coworkers are like family in that we don’t really get to choose them, and yet there is really no other incentive to get along. Well, I guess sanity and a pleasant, functional work environment are good reasons. So without further ado, I will list how I go about trying to navigate work relationships. I am by no means an expert, but these are some core things that work for me. It’s taken me a long time to figure them out and put them into practice. I’ve definitely learned some things the hard way (i.e. Horrible, awkward, emotional work situations). Can’t we all just get along?

1. Be A Professional First

There isn’t much fault to be found in a person diligently and reliably doing their job. While it may not be “you” or “your personality”, few people dislike or pick at a responsible and professional colleague. Put your duties first, and let your shining personality take a backseat for a bit. That is what you are there to do. You can let people in on the “real you” outside of work, and even at work over time once you have established how great you are at what you do.

2. Be Nice

Treat everyone with respect and kindness. You know the deal, the good old “Golden Rule”. Don’t treat anyone in a manner that you would find hurtful (trust me, you will feel better for it in the long run, too). There is no need to overdo it, we don’t want to fall into the valley of the pushover, but just don’t be the person that people dread talking to.

3. Try To Stay Positive

Now, I am just as cynical and jaded as the next person… But I try to keep it to myself until I know who I can trust with my true nature. For me sarcasm and negativity is a source of humor, and a coping mechanism- Not everyone sees it that way though. Stay upbeat and cooperative (but PLEASE, not TOO upbeat. That can be equally draining).

4. Remember: We Are All Just People

Again, work isn’t the place to put your personal life and emotions on display. This gets problematic though when we forget them altogether though. It gets easier to be cold to people, or to fail to understand them and dismiss them when we only see “work selves”. Remember people have their own problems and lives that they are dealing with outside of work, just like you. This helps me have an extra bit of patience on the days when I feel like I am going to stab myself in the eyeballs.

5. Be Honest In Your Interactions

Work is not the place to be cute, coy, withholding, passive aggressive or dishonest. I mean this for everything. Tell people what you are doing, what you want, what you need, what went well and what is bothering you in plain honest words. If someone pays you a compliment, say thank you. If someone treats you poorly, let them know it made you feel bad. If someone did something well, let them know. I can’t emphasize enough how important stripped down and honest communication can be in the workplace.

6. Don’t Slack Off

No need to explain this, and I am sure none of you are slackers, but my Mom beat this into my poor little brain so I had to let it make the list.

7. Be On Time

Excuses are only excuses. Eventually people just see you as the late person, and no matter how lovely and charming you are, it causes a low-grade chronic irritation in the people you work with. Do whatever you need to do to be as punctual as possible. I know this goes without saying, but it is really easy to run late and it is a really easy habit to form.

8. Be A Yes Person

Help people out if you can whenever you can. Again, don’t be a doormat, but be a team player and people will have your back no matter what.

9. Be Interested In What You Do

I know this isn’t always easy. However, if you can keep your curiosity and your desire to learn piqued in some way with what you do it will go a long way.

10. Control Your Temper

I have what one might call a reasonable “short fuse”. I’m impatient, I’m sarcastic, I have a really low threshold for being annoyed and I’m sensitive. Sort of a powder keg. The most difficult thing for me to do is to leave my temper at the door. Often times this leads to hour long fantasies of “Street Me” encountering some people at work who piss me off. The fantasies have to be enough. My work self counts to ten (or ten thousand), controls eye rolls, breathes deeply, goes to my happy place (or violent fantasy of choice), whatever it takes. The temper should stay in check. In doing this, when you actually are justly angry and express it calmly and rationally, people listen.

(I still don’t think I got my point across to the pediatrics resident I SCREAMED at for like 10 minutes years ago…)

11. Try Not To Gossip

This is so hard. Talking shhhh is one of my favorite sports. Seriously. I could listen to gossip for days, even about people I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. But it is only trouble at work. You can listen if you must, and sometimes you learn pretty juicy things just being around… But keep your mouth shut. Or talk to your pet. Or journal. Or make a painting. I don’t know, just don’t be the work gossip. It never goes well.

I can’t say Happy New Year anymore – I hear you are supposed to stop after January 6th. But I would have said it before. What tips do you have for getting along with people in the work place? Thanks for reading!


Image via

  • Maxine Alice Davies

    or, be a loveable nuisance like Dwight :)

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      That works too :)

  • Sarah Lawrence

    what a great and practical and DOABLE breakdown!! and i LOVE the timing of the article too as i have an ongoing list of resolutions growing in my braintangle. I love how you bring up being honest in your interactions. You’d be surprised what people will do and are capable of and you’d be stoked to see what you can GET-if you just ASK.

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      Yes, this list was sort of me going through previous resolutions! Ha, I like “brain tangle”.

  • Joseph Nevin

    I’d go as far as to say that these rules not only work in the office, but they work pretty well in life too. Great stuff!

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      Thank you! I guess I do use some of these in real life too :)

  • Cindy Agoncillo

    We desperately could have used this at work last week during the big office cat fight/screaming match. I especially like #11. As I tweeted during the office fight, when you gossip about drama, it doesn’t make the drama go away. It only makes me like you less.

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      Oh that sounds awful! I hope everything cooled down over the weekend.

  • Mackenzie Barrow Warren

    excellent timing. its back to work/school for me today after 3 weeks away. kind of dreading it, but thanks for reminding me its something lots of people go through and that there are lots of ways to deal. :-)

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      Good luck going back! There are always ways to deal. We all go through it, you will do great!

  • Emily Johnson

    I love your articles these are all wonderful tips that I honestly try to live by! I’ll admit though I’ve had some insecure coworkers dislike me in the past because I try to live by these rules (especially 1 and 11 ((these seem to realy bother some people who don’t live by these rules!)) but the truth is I realized that there will always be haters and if your living with integrity and doing a good job the great coworkers and the supervisors will appreciate you for it! Thanks for this reminder!

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      You’ve got it exactly right! I think 1 and 11 are the hardest to follow too, but it’s worth it in the long run.

  • Elisabeth Miller

    This was great. I’m bookmarking this for future use.

    • Alexandra Anderson Conrad

      Awesome. Thank you!

  • Ashley Lynn Cook

    I recently have to quit a job that I’d been at for 5 1/2 years (Ballet instructor) because during all that time I was constantly being treated disrespectfully in front of student and their parents and the manager personally didn’t like me, even though I was doing great at my job. The manager is best friends with my boss (the owner) so she basically complained about me all the time and made me appear to be a horrible employee. :-S It made me sad to leave because I love my students so much, but when there’s nothing more you can do and nothing more you can say, you know it’s time to move on. But now I’m at a job where they know me and love me and treat me with absolute respect! Great article Alexandra! Wonderfully broken down and great advice :-)

  • Kelly Skiff

    Thank you for this! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I will take your advice!

  • Leah Brannan

    this is such good timing! i’ve just got myself a job as a restaurant manager and was feeling kinda nervous about what type of boss to be. i’ve worked in the hospitality industry long enough to have had some really great and some really bad managers and i’ve been trying to figure out the perfect balance. i might even print this out and stick it up behind the counter! sadly, the majority of the people i worked with at my last job did not follow these rules and a lot of people quit that place feeling negative about everything and a little less friendly than they were when they started. thankfully i learned to ignore all the drama and just get on with my job a long time ago and if that job taught me anything it was how not to treat people. so long as i do the exact opposite of what my old boss did, i should be fine! :)

  • Zoey Goetsch

    I would add “Be a rational and reasonable person and deal with your own issues.” It’s much harder to get other people to do this one :) How to get controlling people to chill the f out? I don’t even know but keeping your mouth shut sure doesn’t work either. When you work with coworkers that are clearly crazy, the best thing you can do is to say something and stand up for yourself so that you get moved to a new office! Yay! “Oil and vinegar have separated.”

  • Alexandra Shytsman

    Great article! I esp. agree with #1

Need more Giggles?
Like us on Facebook!

Want more Giggles?
Sign up for our newsletter!