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Office Culture

Four Ways To Become A Better Co-Worker

Science-backed advice on what you need to do to endear yourself to your colleagues
Four Ways To Become A Better Co-Worker
Image credit: Shutterstock
Entrepreneur Staff
Features Writer, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific
4 min read


One of the most important qualities one should have to be successful in one’s chosen profession is the ability to work well with others. If you want to make it to the top, you’re going to need the help and support of people you work with, whether it’s your bosses, colleagues or your subordinates.

Being a good co-worker doesn’t require much effort on your part either. Here are some simple science-backed ways you can become a delight to work with.

Don’t Be Over-Eager To Help

You might think that going around offering your assistance to your colleagues will get you in their good books, but recent research suggests otherwise. Michigan State University scientists found that you should offer your expertise only when asked for when they surveyed 54 employees working in a variety of industries over a period of 10 days and published their findings in Journal of Applied Psychology in September 2018.

"What we found was that on the helper side, when people engage in proactive help, they often don't have a clear understanding of recipients' problems and issues, thus they receive less gratitude for it," said lead author Russell Johnson. "On the recipient side, if people are constantly coming up to me at work and asking if I want their help, it could have an impact on my esteem and become frustrating. I'm not going to feel inclined to thank the person who tried to help me because I didn't ask for it."

Keep It To Yourself

Whether you realize it or not, there’s a high possibility that you’re annoying your co-workers in some way. It’s even possible that it’s not all your fault—it’s a high-stress environment and people can lash out at the slightest thing. According to a team of researchers at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, loud colleagues are the most annoying to work with, closely followed by those who like to gossip.

In their survey of around 2,000 working Americans, the researchers found that 48 per cent of the respondents were most annoyed by general loudness and complaining, while 31 per cent put it down to gossiping and bullying behaviour. Weird eating habits (12 per cent) and email or meeting habits (six per cent) also made it to the list, which shows that annoying habits can shine through at your own desk, in the boardroom and even in the canteen.

Set an Example

We all know that yawning is contagious and can spread rapidly throughout a number of people, but did you know that thinking hard has the same effect? Research carried out by Belgian researchers and published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review in April suggests that might be the case.

They paired up participants and gave them both a similar task to perform, with one member of the duo having a tougher task than the other one. The researchers found that when one person’s task was significantly harder than the other’s, the person with the easier task seemed to be concentrating harder than usual. “Simply performing a task next to a person who exerts a lot of effort in a task will make you do the same,” the researchers concluded.

Be Courteous

Just like your impressive work ethic, your general attitude at work affects those around you. According to research conducted at the University of Florida published in June 2015 in Journal of Applied Psychology, rudeness is as contagious as the common cold. “You see it one time and it changes something in your mind and this activation changes the way you interpret the world,” said lead author Trevor Foulk, a doctoral student in management at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration. “You’ll interpret your interactions in the world as more rude and then respond to this perceived rudeness as rude.

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