No woman or man is an island. And while you can pick your friends, you can’t pick your coworkers! You need their cooperation, goodwill, and understanding to perform your own job well.  You spend more time with your coworkers during the week than  you do your friends or your family. And studies show that when there’s a problem with the relationships in the workplace, there are redundancies, slowed progress, and all of that lowers morale.  While you don’t have to be friends with co-workers, to make you work life more productive, you do need to be friendly. Extending just a few courtesies to colleagues can make a huge difference in somebody’s day and garner workplace peace for you and others.  Here are 5 easy things to do.

1.  Have a smile and a hello when you arrive.  It’s easy to be the office grump. Traffic was bad. Someone was rude. It’s another day, right? But, there’s that person that arrives to work who smiles at everyone and has a cheery hello, and walks past you with calm confidence that makes you feel envious. That can be you. The secret is to stop and take a deep breath before you leave the house, before you get out of the car/bus/train, and before you open the office door. And yes, that was a list of places where you stop, take a deep breath, consciously relax, and bring your best self forward.

2.  Small talk is the key to caring. But you thought small talk is difficult or shallow? Small talk is key to telling someone else you care about what they care about. Karen has pictures of her children on her desk. Bill is a rabid college football fan. Rebecca is planning a trip to Mexico. How do you know that? You ask simple questions like, how was your weekend? And then when someone tells you, you ask a follow up question.  Work is about work, but the work gets done because of the people. And most people work better when they feel that someone at work cares.

3.  Express Appreciation. Is there one person who seems to not mind being the person who puts paper in the copier even when it isn’t their job, or makes another pot of coffee just to be considerate? Sometimes these people are being suck-ups, but I’ve found that most of the time, people who do little things that keep things going at the office, do so because they’re considerate people.  They’re not looking for a thank you, but nobody ever resents being noticed for being kind.

4. Assume the best. If you don’t know for sure what’s someone’s motive is, then assume the best. If you don’t know what someone else is doing on a certain project, or how another team may be tackling their part, assume that everyone is working as hard as you are and cares as much as you do. I have found that people who spread gossip and assume the worst about others are trying to cover up about something regarding their own participation in an endeavor. Where are they getting the time to worry about what someone else is doing and then gossip about it?

5. Be prompt.  Arrive on time. To work. To meetings. Answering emails. Updating your team. Finishing projects. There is nothing that says, “I value your time,” like the expression of being prompt.

You’re there at least 6 – 8 hours a day. Make it more than a hassle free environment.  Do your part to make it a pleasant environment.