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How to become an ideal workmate (and, in some, cases a real friend)


Well, I know that I'm a dreamer and a hopeless romantic, but I've still put together a list of rules and ideas for how a perfect workmate would be. The reason is simple. I think if everybody stuck to these rules both at work and in private, the world would be much easier to live in.


• Be the one who comes up with solutions to the problems. Some people spend most of their time looking for problems and honestly, it's not that hard to find problems. If you supply your colleagues and managers (and friends) with thoughtful solutions to problems, you will get more respect and be admired by everyone.

• Take responsibility – don't blame others. People are just annoyed by such a person. Yes, of course, you have to find out who is involved in a problem. You may need to ask tough questions, but to say that it's not your fault, while pointing out whose fault it is, will just give you enemies who will seek revenge one day.

• Be nice. What you say and don't say at work is important. If you talk to or act condescending towards others, use sarcasm or act generally unpleasant, other people will stay away from you in fear of suffering the same treatment. It makes them happy to avoid having to work with you.

• Bring the problem to the one you have trouble with. If you find it difficult to work with someone, talk to that person and don't go to the boss or address the issue in a meeting.

• Stand by your commitments. Since others depend on your job, you will make trouble for others if you don't do everything you have agreed to do in time. If you are the one who always does what you have said that you would do, your popularity will increase.

• Share the credit for things done well, ideas and contributions that have resulted in something great.

• Help others to become better and develop. Everyone has their talents and experience. If you can help an employee to develop his/her skills, you don't just help him/her, but the whole company and finally yourself because you will have a new friend.

• Consider the people you work with as your customers. Then it's easy to know how to behave towards them. It may feel excessively - oh my God, we can't walk around on pins and needles and smile all day, but then I must tell you that I think you should treat your customers as your best friends, not as someone you should just suck up to. You should give them your skills and knowledge – that's the way to treat customers because eventually you will also get something back for yourself.

• Maintain a normal low profile. It means that you don't boast about things that happen in your life. The reason is that it always makes other people jealous and it's dangerous to work or socialize with jealous people because they love to see people fail.

• Smell good, but don't use too much perfume or After Shave. To smell bad is like asking for comments behind your back and getting enemies. It's reckless not to take care of your personal hygiene. It's also reckless to go around stinking  perfume like a three year old who found her mother's perfume in the bathroom cabinet and poured it all over her head.

• Don't interrupt when someone else is speaking. It's easy to enthusiastically get carried away and try to promote your own ideas. People (ie. you and I) like to express their thoughts and those who listen to us, we like more than others.

• Never leave work in the lap of others. If you have a lot to do, you can ask someone to help and perhaps collaborate, but don't be the one that everyone is wary of.

• Praise other people. There is a cynical expression which, unfortunately, is fairly correct: “People believe in anything as long as it's a compliment”. I do. You do, too. But sincere compliments are all about work, not about looks (sleazy looks from a man to a woman), are always appreciated. It's wonderful that such a simple thing as telling someone that he/she is doing a good job can make such a huge, positive difference for other people - and it's because you praise someone and really mean it. He/she won't forget that it was you who made his/her day!

• Do more than others expect from you. If anyone needs something done by Wednesday, complete the task already on Monday afternoon. It makes life easier for everyone and you will be regarded as a great asset.

• Offer to help when a fellow worker is really lost somewhere down Shit Creek. If you help him/her now, he/she will both be grateful and also more willing to help you when you need it.

• Be the first saying hi to people every morning. This is a race that I myself have run for ten years. Many people are weird and avoid saying hi and wait until someone else acknowledges them first. This goes for neighbors, parents of children's classmates or temporary acquaintances. Anyone who says hello first wins. Come on, join the race now!

• Listen to the advice of others. People love to share their knowledge and if you show them that you are interested in their opinions, you'll both learn a lot while making others happy.

• Be a good guest. You would probably never return to a friend's house and just step through the door, without him/her knowing that you're coming. It's good to think the same way when it comes to your work. Before you step into a colleague's office, knock on the door. It provides him/her a chance to determine if he/she has time to talk to you now or not. And it doesn't matter if you are sitting in a huge office with little cubicles. Always be sure to ask politely if it's OK to disturb him/her while before you just sit down and assume that he/she has time for you right now.

• Stay home when you are sick. There are few things as annoying as a person who shows up as a febrile illness martyr at work and thinks he/she is a hero when, in fact, he/she is likely to infect others.

• Speak quietly. Use a voice that would work in the library. Everyone else has things to do and loud person's voice disturbs everyone (except himself/herself).

• Ask before you borrow things. The rule is: Do you need to borrow something - ask. Do you need to borrow something repeatedly - get one for yourself.

• Communicate clearly. Some people communicate in a way that, if you want to be generous, may be call “intuitive communication”, which in practice means that the counterparty has to guess what he/she wants. Instead of saying directly what they want; “Can you pass me the salt, please”, they say; “I wonder if there is any salt in the cupboard”. It's better to say what you want and risking the word “no”.

• Be clear about what you mean. Sometimes it's difficult to understand what others mean.”Immediately” means different things to different people. For one person the word means ”within five minutes”. For a more light-hearted person, it may mean ”sometime today.”The solution to this problem is, of course, to be clear about what you mean when you say things and ask the other party to repeat your wish.

• Take time to try to understand other people. Find out what is important to them and why it's important.





About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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