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10 Ways to Be a Better Coworker

We at CopyPress often talk about company culture and what it means to work in our office. Most of our discussions devolve into campfire stories, many of which begin with the sentence “back where I used to work, I had this coworker who…” and go downhill from there. Spending 40 hours a week with difficult people can be taxing, which is why we’ve assembled these tips to be more agreeable around the office — with quotes from fellow Copypressers.

1. Take the Time to Help Others

Overworked is the new pink, so making time to help others or give them what they need goes a long way.

The phrase, “I’ve just been too busy to get to it,” has become a thinly veiled, “It’s not important to me right now,” and “I’m really busy” translates to, “I’m too busy for you.” While some things are farther down the ladder than others, tasks that are a low priority for one team could hold up an entire project for another.

By prioritizing tasks and keeping a level head, you will be able to help your coworkers with their needs and keep a level head.

That being said…

2. Not Everything is “High Priority”

While that evergreen article for the shareholder’s meeting two months from now may be on your front burner, it might not even be on the stove for the writer that’s putting it together. Deadline reminders serve to keep employees on track, but there’s a fine line between checking in and pestering. People will start to ignore your calls and emails if you make it seem like the sky is falling every time you contact them.

Oh, and the announcement that there’s leftover birthday cake in the break room? Not a high priority, no red exclamation point is needed.


3. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

For Example: Yes I wrote it, but she approved it, so it’s not my fault that there are spelling errors. She should have caught them when I gave her the first draft.

When people start playing the blame game the office work environment starts getting toxic. Not only does this waste time but also brews a company culture where throwing people under the bus is normal and acceptable. Even if the problem isn’t your fault, offer possible solutions to solve whatever obstacles are in your path.

4. Don’t Give Yourself a Promotion

“I had a coworker call herself a helicopter because she micromanaged like a boss…and she wasn’t a boss.”

Promoting yourself to head copywriter, head account associate or head intern is about effective as officially dubbing yourself king of the hill. When you decide to micromanage your coworkers (not your employees, but your peers of equal standing) it sends the message that you think you’re better than they are. If your supervisor promotes you, embrace the position. But until then, respect your peers.

5. Don’t Ask Questions that are Already Answered in Emails

Let’s says you’ve spent 20 minutes crafting the perfect meeting notice. You have clearly bulleted out the agenda and bolded the date and time. Anything that anyone could ever want to know is in this email. You hit send. It’s gone. Five minutes later someone emails you asking where the meeting is going to be. Someone else pings you asking what time the meeting is. You get up from your desk and throw your desktop out the window, walk out of the office and never return.

Just kidding. But triple check your emails before you click on the Skype or G-chat window, you save the sender a lot of grief by rereading.

6. Spell Your Coworkers’ Names Correctly

Skype has this funny little tool: it shows the first and last name of the person you are trying to contact. Some email software does too. There’s rarely ever an excuse to get someone’s name wrong when you’re contacting them online. It’s worth the extra five seconds to double check and make sure the spelling is correct when you chat with coworkers. Misspellings show a lack of respect and are a quick way to start off on the wrong foot if you’re new.

imageIt’s “Caitlin”

Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to talk to your coworkers, and I’m certainly not asking you to like them. I’m just suggesting that a little spellcheck goes a long way.

7. Acknowledge the Expertise of Others

“I worked for a guy would constantly tell me how things should be on my designs and the functionality of how an application would work. The coworker was an instructional writer and had no experience or education designing or developing.”

We have all specialized in different skills over the years. A copywriter can be fantastic at writing and an SEO will work magic with optimizing content. But if you’re a writer, your one Photoshop class in college doesn’t qualify you to teach your web designer.

Each member of your team is talented at something. Respect what they’re good at and let them thrive in their environment.

8. Be Gracious with the “Reply All” Button

Reply All is a great button for looping multiple people into a conversation, but there are times when replying to only one person is the gracious thing to do. If someone sends out an email without the needed attachment, it’s better to talk to them individually or wait for them to realize their mistake. If the thread is trying to figure out who the moldy yogurt in the break room belongs to, it’s not proper etiquette to call out Steve from HR. Use your discretion.


9. Save the Personal Phone Calls for Later

“She would talk to her boyfriend for 2-3 hours a day. I feel like my Spanish improved just by sitting next to her. My headphones couldn’t compete with her voice.”

Sometimes you need to answer personal calls at work, but the entire office doesn’t really want to hear a one-sided conversation about your great aunt Ira’s colonoscopy, or the struggle you’re having to find a tickle-me-Elmo before Christmas. If you must whittle away the hours catching up with friends instead of actually working, try texting or Facebook chat. Something quieter.

10. Don’t Heat up Fish in the Microwave

Just don’t.

About the author

Amanda Dodge