by Patricia Siswandjo on

New year, new you at the office.

If you’ve long thought of your workplace as a soul-sucking place to be, there’s no better time to take charge of your career (and sanity) by injecting a bit of graciousness into your relationship with your colleagues.

After all, building close friendships at work not only makes your time in the office a happier one, it also makes you seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job – a significant thing, considering Singapore employees are the least engaged at work among their peers from major Asian markets.

The Pride shares some of our tried-and-tested steps to help you become BFFs with your co-workers.

Greetings, new (and old) friends!

Do you remember your first day at a new job? New office, new faces, no lunch plans – entering a new environment is always daunting. And making new friends, even more so.

So the next time you see a new face, avoid that instinct to look away in a bid to avoid those awkward first conversations. Instead, smile, welcome them to the team, and invite them out to lunch.

And even if there are no newbies in the office, making it a point to strike up a friendly conversation (anything but the weather!) with your colleagues could ultimately lead to more meaningful interactions with them.

While chatting to them, make eye contact and genuinely listen to the conversation. It’ll show that you are actually interested in their lives and in them as friends, not simply co-workers.

A little help, please?

A too-heavy workload, or even personal problems, can stress one out, and affect your ability to work as well. Along with long hours and constant pressure at the workplace, stress is a key factor causing more young professionals today to suffer from burnout.

If you notice your colleague floundering and showing signs of stress – they might look unwell or tired, or may be skipping lunch and working overtime – try offering them some assistance.

It can be as simple as offering to get a coffee or a snack for a frazzled colleague. Or, you could go so far as to offer to relieve them of some of their tasks, if that’s within your capacity.

It may be extra work for you now, but really, what goes around will eventually come around. On another day, in the not-so-distant future, they might return the favour when they see you struggling with work.

Keep calm and choose kinder words

Sometimes, pressure at the workplace can be overwhelming.

But even as deadlines loom, or someone in your team messes up, harshly reprimanding them is not the way to handle the situation. In the heat of the moment, it might be tempting to yell and vent your frustrations, but it’s possible to get the same message across without being negative.

There are many ways of doing this, from “plussing”, where people iterate on ideas without using harsh or judgmental language, to the “compliment sandwich”, where people sandwich negative feedback with the positive.

No matter the method you choose, feedback should be given as constructively and objectively as possible. Point out what works and what doesn’t using non-judgemental language, and don’t make it personal – nothing about how they’re “not doing a good job” or “should have done better”.

Colleagues who eat together, stay together

Speaking of sandwiches, sharing a bite with your work mates may be more important than you think. Besides being a good way to get out of the office, enjoying a meal or even a tea break snack together can help build camaraderie, too.

If the way to your colleagues’ hearts is indeed through their stomachs, you can help keep your office pantry stocked with snacks (like ours) and even take some in to your meetings (it boosts productivity, really).

One thing to note while you’re indulging the munchies: Be mindful of those who haven’t had the chance to try that yummy snack someone brought back from Japan. Yes, you are free to help yourself to snacks in the pantry; but, no, they’re not all for you.

And don’t forget to clean up after yourself. If you somehow do finish the bag of snacks, be sure to throw any empty packets away. Leaving them behind simply gives the next person – and their rumbling stomachs – false hopes.

Show a little respect for boundaries

If you work in an open-plan office, it’s likely that noise pollution (yes, it’s a real thing) and the lack of privacy are your top two pet peeves.

In this case, being aware of your co-workers’ boundaries can go a long way towards creating a considerate and gracious work environment.

If you need to listen to music to get in the zone, use your headphones or earphones.
Conversations – both work and personal – over speaker phone is a no-no. And when chit-chatting during a work break, say it with me: Indoor voices.

Graciousness is one of the keys to a company’s success

When one’s employees are happy, organisations thrive. Happy workers who enjoy their work and have fun working together in a team perform their jobs better.

Being gracious isn’t difficult, so as you start a new work week after the Chinese New Year festivities, why not practice small acts of kindness, starting with a simple ‘hello’ and a smile?