Four Ways To Become A Better Co-Worker

Science-backed advice on what you need to do to endear yourself to your colleagues

learn more about Vaibhav Joshi

By Vaibhav Joshi


You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

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.

Vaibhav Joshi

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

Related Topics


How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Celebrity Entrepreneurs

'I Dreaded Falling in Love.' Rupert Murdoch Is Getting Hitched for the Fifth Time.

The 92-year-old media tycoon announces he will wed former San Francisco police chaplain Ann Lesley Smith.


How Great Entrepreneurs Find Ways to Win During Economic Downturns

Recessions are an opportunity to recalibrate and make great strides in your business while others are unprepared to brave the challenges. Here's how great entrepreneurs can set themselves up for success despite economic uncertainty.


21 Productive Things to Do During Your Commute

How to use this frustrating "wasted time" to get smarter, more focused and re-energized.

Science & Technology

How ChatGPT and Generative AI Can Transform the Way You Run Your Business

Let's take a high-level overview of how generative AI might transform your fledgling business. The benefits of this technology innovation remain crucial for any entrepreneur to grasp.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

5 Types of Toxic Employees and How to Deal With Them (Infographic)

When it comes to the troublemakers in your organization you have two choices: cut them out or rein them in. Here's how to do the latter, like a boss.