No one wants to hear through the grapevine that their co-workers think they are difficult to get along with. Even worse would be hearing a certain five-letter word associated with your name. However that reputation came to be, maybe it's time to work on your "nice factor." Being nicer to your co-workers — and them being nicer to you — can boost morale, improve relationships and even make your job more fun.
Thank your co-workers, even when they do something that is part of their everyday job duties. When they make you a photocopy, answer your phone or deliver a report pronto, express your gratitude. For people go the extra mile, perhaps a thank you note is in order. Practice this "gratitude attitude" with anyone you encounter in your place of business, in the hallway or in the parking lot. Thank the guy who held the door open for you, or the delivery person who let you in the elevator first. You'd be surprised by how many people, in the rush of the morning entrance or afternoon exit, forget to kindly acknowledge the little things.
Trade the small talk for meaningful conversation. Show a genuine interest in your co-workers' lives by being sincere in your daily greetings, asking thoughtful questions and taking time to listen to their answers. Of course, you don't want to spend too much time at the water cooler -- after all, there's work to do -- but taking part in short and simple exchanges will up your nice factor. For example, if a co-worker mentions that she is going skiing over the weekend, ask her on Monday whether she braved any black diamonds. She will likely be impressed and flattered that you remembered.
Do something nice that your co-workers wouldn't expect. Change the water cooler when it gets low, brew a fresh pot of coffee when the java begins to look stale or sludgy, or surprise your office mates with doughnuts one morning. Invite someone new to lunch or offer to give a co-worker a ride to work when you hear that her car is in the shop. Being nicer to your co-workers can be as simple as complimenting someone on an outfit, shoes or hairstyle -- as long the compliment is sincere.
Since 2000 Donna T. Beerman has contributed to newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes higher education, marketing and social media, and her presentations and writing have won industry awards. She has an MFA in creative writing, is the integrated marketing manager at a Pennsylvania college and founded "Hippocampus Magazine."