How to create good co-worker relationships?

Updated on January 28, 2023
types of coworkers

The office space is an environment dictated by company politics and power struggles. With so many different individuals in one place, there will be all kinds of relationships forming. You can expect anything from small conflicts and outrageous disputes to lasting friendships and even romance.

Forming good relationships with your co-workers can make your days at the office a lot more enjoyable but it could also be essential for your career.

Here we will take a look at the intricacies of inter-coworker relationships so you could make a decision to resolve your particular situation. It doesn’t really matter if you are working in a small start-up or a giant corporation.

As long as you have to deal with people in the workplace, there will be conflicts and stress so you should acquire some insights and soft skills in order to survive in this volatile environment.

Types of co-workers

types of coworkers

In order for you to get along with the people you work with, you need to make some efforts in order to understand them. It takes time and observation to determine the specific group in which a certain person falls. However, the archetypes outlined here may serve as a quick checklist.

#1. The Rabbit

Characteristics: Conservative, avoiding risks, obedient, work security is a top priority, possibly a workaholic.

The rabbit is a co-worker who whether or not they like their job, it’s the best they’ve got. The most important thing for them is to keep their job. Possibly because they are a parent, or somebody is heavily reliant on them. You will find them to be obedient to authority and less likely to take risks.

#2. The Lion

Characteristics: Confident, dominating, ambitious, leading, responsible.

The lion is brave and honorable. They are not afraid of taking risks as long as there is a clear goal to work towards They sure are not afraid of conflicts. They would not avoid responsibility so you can trust them with important work. However, the lion is attracted to power and they are prone to take it for themself due to their strong leadership skills. They would go for that promotion and soon you might be reporting to them.

#3. The Butterfly

Characteristics: Friendly and social, curious, mysterious, artistic, working on personal projects.

The butterfly is ambitious. But their ambition is not necessarily aligned with the ambition of your company. They are here probably just for a little while. They would love to get to know everybody and find out who are the people they are interested in working with. Eventually, they might leave on their own but they might take somebody with them so they could do their own thing.

#4. The Bear

Characteristics: Relaxed, unconcerned, avoiding hard work and responsibility.

The bear might be socially acceptable but their work ethics are questionable. They avoid working too hard and they’d prefer if they are not appointed as a project manager. Responsibility is simply not their thing and they are more interested in their Friday night plans rather than next month’s targets.

#5. The Panther

Characteristics: Ambitious, manipulative, selfish, power-hungry, treacherous.

The panther is smart and sexy. They would do anything to achieve their goals. They are likely to avoid direct conflict but you can be sure that they are plotting and scheming to come on top. The panther is after a promotion. Or after the CEO. Beware.

#6. The Migrating Bird

Characteristics: N/A

This person isn’t sure how they got here and what exactly they are doing. This might be their very first job. Their work ethics and behavior are uncharted territories. They are likely to leave the place soon but if they stay, their archetype will eventually manifest itself.

So, what archetype applies to you? Be aware that your colleagues might already have figured out what kind of “animal” you are so if you’d like to restore their good opinion of you, then you better change a few things about yourself. In fact, the next section might help you out.

How to be a good co-worker

How to be a good co-worker

#1. If you are new to the office, be friendly and introduce yourself to your new colleagues.

#2. If you have been working at this place for a while, be friendly towards newcomers and politely introduce yourself to them.

#3. Keep your desk clean if you are sharing the workspace with others.

#4. Keep your office clean in case you have a space of your own.

#5. Be polite and helpful, don't turn away the people who need some advice or help.

#6. Take an active part in group projects and contribute to the best of your abilities.

#7. Communicate with your colleagues frequently. Ask them about their work and maybe offer some help or insights.

#8. Actively seek feedback for your work. Take criticism calmly and learn from your mistakes.

#9. When asked to share your opinion on other people's work, don't get too harsh. Explain your views calmly and provide suggestions for improvements.

#10. Practice your small talk. This will help you break the ice with people and you will appear more approachable.

How to communicate with your boss

how to communicate with your boss

Proper communication with your superiors is essential for establishing a good professional relationship. Here are some good practices that you could resort to in time of need:

#1. Make sure to write down all your questions before a formal meeting with your boss. This way you will look prepared, interested, and professional.

#2. Never ask your superior “why” – instead, ask them “for what reasons” because why is always an accusation.

#3. Do not approach your boss when you are upset and emotional. Let some time pass, cool off, and go to them only when you are calm and calculated.

#4. Don't go to your boss with complaints alone. Instead, think of solutions and improvements that you could suggest to them.

#5. Ask your boss for clear KPIs (key performance indicators) before the start of projects.

#6. Listen to your boss carefully and find out what are the most important things for them. Do your best to meet their demands.

#7. Do not gossip in front of your superiors.

#8. Make sure to thank your boss when they have helped you and praise them.

#9. Communicate with your superiors regularly in order to establish rapport and trust.

#10. Actively ask your boss about the direction of your company and future plans and targets.

#11. Seek support and guidance in a timely manner when you need help. Nobody benefits if you are feeling lost and confused.

#12. Practice confident body language and speech to earn the respect of your superiors.

Romance in the workplace

dating a colleague at the office

Big companies like Google and Facebook have been open about their “dating a co-worker” policies. The romance between superiors and subordinates is generally discouraged. And for good reasons.

The heart wants what it wants and some “official company policy” is probably not going to stop in pursuing what could very well be your partner in life. However, don’t give way to your compulsions without considering the points outlined below:

#1. If you find a certain co-worker attractive and you’d like to date them, make sure to check your company’s policy on this matter.

#2. Don’t ask one of your colleagues on a date out of the blue. Try to establish some rapport first.

#3. If you ask your romantic interest to join you and your team for drinks after work, and they say that they can’t, then take this as a no. Or maybe “not yet” and wait for a little while. Observe your coworker some more and talk to them.

#4. Do your best to find out if your romantic interest is in a relationship. Check their social profiles and go through their pictures if they can be accessed. You may feel a little dirty about stalking them but it is the lesser of two evils.

#5. If dating said co-worker is going to work out, consider if you could still work together in case the relationship comes to an end.

Key Takeaways

  • The workplace is a volatile environment governed by power struggles and company rules.
  • The relationships between co-workers, superiors, and subordinates vary but there are some general good practices that you can turn to in times of need.
  • Always check your company’s policies regarding co-worker relationships and follow them to the best of your ability.
  • Conflicts are bound to happen but how you manage and come out of them speaks volumes about your professionalism and personality.
  • Romance in the workplace is something common but make sure to check what the company rules are.
  • Do your best to be a good co-worker and help your peers and superiors.
Written by:
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galin office topics square
co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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