While you’re building your career, strong interpersonal skills are just as important, if not more so, than strong work skills. And having respectful, positive interactions with coworkers and supervisors are interpersonal skills that will take you far in your career. With a few tricks in your interpersonal tool belt, you'll be impressing your coworkers in no time.
Keep It Real
Begin positive interactions by being honest and sincere with your colleagues to make genuine connections. If you pretend to be something you’re not, you’ll not only fail to make real, lasting connections, you’ll also lose trust, and neither of those will get you very far. No one likes a phony. Show genuine interest in and concern for coworkers and they’ll return the favor. Truly listen to your colleagues by giving them your undivided attention when they’re speaking. Ignore your phone or that entertaining YouTube video and look your coworker in the eye when she’s talking to you, nodding your head every so often.
Keep It Positive
It’s human nature to focus on the negative, but staying positive is the key to success in workplace interactions. Whether you’re dealing with an angry customer, a stressed-out coworker or an overbearing boss, focus on the positive to keep the other person’s defensiveness low and the conversation productive. Even when you’re disagreeing with a coworker, disagree with respect to remain professional. You may think your coworker’s point is completely crazy, but keep that to yourself and keep the conversation positive. Concede the parts of your coworker’s point that have merit before adding your own to promote cooperation and mutual respect.
Keep an Open Mind
One of the easiest traps to fall into is to think everyone perceives the world the same way, which can lead to assuming we understand someone’s meaning. Keep an open mind, and make sure you’re on the same page with the intended meaning of a coworker, client or customer’s communication helps avoid misunderstandings, keeps things positive and increases respect. While you’re truly listening to the person, focus on understanding his meaning more than agreeing with him. Ask a question, such as “when you say (insert phrase), do you mean (insert your assumed meaning)?” to confirm assumptions in order to keep things clear and keep cool heads.
One of the best ways to earn trust and respect from your colleagues and supervisors is to follow through and do a fantastic job. If you make a commitment, see it through, and you’ll quickly gain respect as well as a reputation for being reliable. But even the best of us drops a ball now and then. If you do, be accountable. Apologize and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. And if a coworker drops a ball and loses your trust, give her the opportunity to re-earn it by trying a task again.
Jennafer Martin has more than 14 years of experience in writing, editing and brand management for literary, business-to-business and consumer publications. She is a writer for Zoe Soul Spa and "Pets in the City" magazine.