ICBA Blog

How to Get Along with Your Coworkers

These on-the-job people skills will go the extra mile when working with a changing selection of folks

Independent contractors often work with a rotating cast of characters to get the job done. Maybe you take on gigs at various restaurants. Or perhaps you work with different people delivering and installing appliances. The point is not everyone you share a shift with or encounter while at work will be your cup of tea. And vice versa. So how do you get through the hours? Here are some best practices for putting your best foot forward and tackling situations where others aren’t showing themselves in a good light.

Have a good attitude

Even if you’re feeling less than enthusiastic about a particular task or just work in general, maintaining a positive demeanor helps boost morale—for everyone. Plus, studies show a good attitude can actually improve your performance. You don’t have to be perpetually perky or adopt the role of workplace cheerleader. Just avoid exhibiting a negative mindset. Skip complaining. Face the tasks at hand with a can-do outlook instead. Negativity is contagious, but on the plus side, so is positivity. If you’re faced with negative coworkers, resist the urge to join their grumbling. That’s not to say you can’t vent about work, but those conversations are usually best saved for trusted friends and family members when you’re not on the clock.

Avoid gossip

In any work setting, gossip can act like a virus. Do what you can to avoid catching it. If you participate in gossip or say negative things about someone else, there’s a good chance that info will get back to the person being talked about. Such a scenario only breeds animosity between coworkers. Plus, research shows gossip, in general, can lead to negative effects on well-being for everyone involved. If you hear others gossiping, stay out of it. If someone engages you in gossip, change the subject. Your coworkers will respect you for not getting on board the blather boat.

Perform your job role

We all have days when we’re tired or feel less on the ball. But resist the temptation to slack. When someone slacks off, another person has to pick up that slack to make a shift, task, or job run smoothly. Repeatedly skipping out on duties or getting careless won’t endear you to the coworkers you meet. But if you typically perform your job roles with diligence, and even occasionally pick up the slack for others when they’re less on their game, they’ll likely do the same in return. If you regularly work with someone who slacks, Harvard Business Review recommends having a conversation and keeping an open mind about what might be going on.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

When we make mistakes, we often have a natural inclination to hide the flub or get defensive if we’re confronted about a problem. Sometimes blaming someone else is a strong temptation, too. If you are legitimately at fault for something, own it quickly and find a solution to make it right if possible. Resist the urge to throw others under the bus, even if they caused part of the problem. Give them the chance to own up as well. Personal accountability is an important virtue, and your coworkers will laud you for it.

Report problematic, awful coworkers

If you’ve had the experience of working with a coworker who makes derogatory comments, racist remarks, or engages in any other type of hate speech, report that person to whoever has hired you. Likewise, report anyone who violates your personal space, harasses you, or otherwise behaves inappropriately. The hiring manager will want to know so that they can take action to ensure the safety and well-being of other independent contractors or employees on the team.