How to be a better co-worker in 2023
Here’s how you can achieve a better version of your co-worker-self (and stop annoying others)
We spend over two-thirds of a week working, and if the office is filled with irritating people, it can take stress levels up a notch.
While some might get personally triggered by their colleagues’ characters or personality traits, there are other (more general) behavioral patterns that may be off-putting in a professional setting. Certain behaviors may be damaging to the team’s morale, and focus, or even cause co-workers to feel anxious or burnt out.
Let’s break down things anyone can keep in mind and improve to make their work environment exasperation-free.
1. Check your colleagues’ calendars
Google Calendar has been invented for a reason, and if your team uses that to schedule meetings and plan their day – do everyone a favor and put the tool to good use.
Nothing is more annoying than getting double booked or heading out for a coffee break only to find out someone scheduled a call you had no idea about. No one likes being bombarded with messages while in an important meeting, or deep in focus working on a task.
Be nice and consider other people’s time, and double-check the time zone if your co-worker is working from a different country. Your colleagues will appreciate you taking an extra 20 seconds to skim over their schedule.
2. Stop having meetings that could have been an email
With all the possible means of professional communication nowadays – be it Slack, Asana, Linear LinkedIn DMs, or the good-old Email – we’re able to cut down on unnecessary meetings or calls. Yet, some workers and even managers still like to gather co-workers for discussions or task delegation.
Don’t get us wrong – those are completely necessary, but unfortunately, more often than not meetings (especially remote ones) get long and unproductive. The only results they bear are annoying everyone and wasting people’s time. If you feel like you could text your colleague instead of finding the time to speak to them, go for it!
Next time you schedule a 30-minute check-in with someone, take a step back and assess whether you’ll indeed need those 30 minutes. You may only need to discuss a simple question, so why not make it 15? Your counterpart will appreciate you being considerate of their time, and you’ll have a more fruitful conversation, knowing the time is limited and you have to resolve the matter asap.
3. Only critique if you can give constructive criticism
Have you ever been told “This could have been much better” or “Can you improve this?” ?
While the job you did may have indeed been better, it’s not a helpful way to communicate feedback.
So next time you feel like correcting someone or asking them to improve their output, try to be more specific about the points you’d wish to be tweaked. Suggest ways of improvement, or explain what you find underperforming, at the very least. If you’re unable to put your opinion forward in a constructive way, keep it to yourself until you can.
4. Learn to take constructive criticism yourself
When you receive constructive feedback, avoid getting defensive or clinging to excuses. Instead, listen in and see how you can learn from the criticism and apply it to the project you’re working on.
Don’t get upset with your colleague for expressing their opinions – they cared enough to take their time to help you improve.
5. Less work talk outside of work
Having work friends is great, and it makes time in the office pass by quicker. However, if you hang out with your colleagues outside of work, and all you seem to talk about is still work-related, chances are they’ll get sick of you sooner than later.
No one likes to chat deals, metrics, and partnerships when they’re having drinks at the bar, or are out for brunch on a sunny terrasse. If you care to keep your work-friendships alive, you’d better find other topics to bring up.
6. Stop normalizing over-working
Are you that person who can’t seem to shut up about how stressed they are constantly? Are you always bringing up working during weekends or sleepless nights? Are you skipping lunch and eating at your desk to squeeze in a few extra minutes of work?
We’re going to do your colleagues a favor, and tell you to stop. Such behavior creates an extremely unhealthy work environment and may lead to people feeling pressure to follow suit. We’re sure you don’t mean anything bad, but you may be causing some of your colleagues’ extreme anxiety.
If you do tend to work longer hours, or prefer to execute some of the tasks at night or during off-days, don’t go around the office whining about it for days on end.
7. Don’t message people on weekends or their days off
Following our previous point, if you find yourself working outside of regular working hours, keep in mind that your peers are probably having dinner, dreaming, or having fun somewhere. Be considerate of others and their time off – don’t text them about work at 2 AM.
P.S. if you’re not off work, one of your colleagues may be, so refer back to point #1 in this article and double-check with their calendar.
8. Limit professional jargon, it’s annoying
Some corporate buzzwords do come in handy, but when all you speak is business babble, you may be causing your colleagues to cringe pretty badly, or even vex them.
Next time you feel the urge to say “circle back”, “touch base”, “double down”, or anything of the sort, try to rephrase it to sound a little more human (and annoy people less).
Start improving today
We absolutely had to call those irritating behaviors out, for your own good. If you feel like we were talking about you at some stage, don’t be offended – it’s a great starting point for practicing point #4!