7. When dealing with a difficult coworker, pretend your kids are watching. This neat little visualization will help you keep a cool head. After all, you’ve taught your children to be mannerly. With them “watching” you, it will be difficult to stoop to the level of your infuriating colleague.
8. Ladle out the compliments. Did Tom fix the office copier — again? Has the quiet secretary in the cubicle behind you lost 25 pounds? By all means, compliment your coworkers on their achievements — personal or professional. Too often, we focus on what people are doing wrong.
9. Spread your good cheer. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, but try to perform one act of kindness a week, choosing a different coworker each time. For example, one week you might bring in doughnuts for no reason. Another week, it might be a card for a colleague — maybe a thank-you note for helping you out last week, or a light, humorous card for a colleague who seems down. It can be fun — and rewarding — to see a colleague’s face light up for no other reason than you picked them out of the crowd for a special kindness.
10. Return calls and e-mails promptly. To win friends at work, start with good office etiquette. There’s nothing more frustrating to busy coworkers than to have their emails and phone messages ignored. Your silence doesn’t just make their jobs harder; it also conveys an unpleasant message: You’re unimportant to me.
11. Give credit where credit is due. Don’t withhold credit from deserving coworkers. You’ll alienate them, and they won’t be there for you when you need them (or when they all go out for lunch). Embrace the attitude that we all win together, and let others know when a colleague has done something above and beyond on a project. Also, if someone incorrectly gives you credit and praise, acknowledge the coworker who deserves the accolades.
12. Here’s one for the boss: Always work at least as hard as anyone working with or for you. Make it clear that you would never ask anyone to do a level of work you wouldn’t be willing to take on yourself.
13. Always be on time to show you respect other people’s time.
14. Express your good ideas in a way that makes it clear they are not the only good ideas, but that others may have equally good insights to add.
15. Talk about your life outside the office when it’s appropriate. This will remind the people you work with that you’re a person first, not just an employee or employer.
16. Assume the positive about what you don’t know. Funny how a team of workers always think they’re working harder than those yahoos down the hall, and that the bosses are clueless. Don’t subscribe to that kind of toxic thinking, even if it’s rampant. It’s a negative attitude that makes work become miserable. Instead, assume that everyone else is working hard and doing their best, even if you don’t know what their work is. You should believe both in the work you’re doing and the organization you’re doing it for. If you can’t, perhaps it’s time to move on.