Author: Christian Goudge, AWARE-NS Safety Collaborator
Working with people you don’t necessarily want to is never easy yet we have to do it every day at work. Unlike our plans for a Saturday night on the town, at work we can’t pick and choose who we spend our time with. Employees are usually selected by their employers based on skills, ability, education and experience and whether these line up with the requirements of the job. Consideration for whether or not John will get along with Sue is pretty low on the list. So how do we create and maintain a respectful workplace when your co-worker just rubs you the wrong way?
In addition to the organizational leaders developing policy and procedures on workplace violence, workplace rights and workplace harassment, front line workers can have a significant effect on creating a respectful and professional workplace.
Here are a few things we all can do:

1. Accept The Differences

We are all individuals and because of this we all view and approach things slightly differently. Sometimes one person’s approach is very different than another’s. Not to say it is wrong, just different. Before we object to this different perspective, take a minute to consider it. We all want to be heard when we have an idea, engage in a positive conversation by asking leading questions and have the person explain their perspective. You never know, they may be on to something.

2. Say Please, Thank You and Smile

I know this sounds like your mother talking but moms are pretty smart. Think about it: what happens when you greet someone with a smile and a cheery ‘Good Morning’? You usually get that back. And when it comes to asking for or receiving help, a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ not only shows some respect and appreciation for your co-workers but also gives you a better chance at getting help the next time you need it. Try it! You and your co workers just might like it!

3. Nothing About Me, Without Me

Rumours can be damaging and distracting in any organization and hurtful to the person or people involved and nothing starts rumours faster than talking about someone behind their back. It is also disrespectful and not fair. Insist on addressing an issue you have with a co-worker with that co-worker. If you are uncomfortable about starting the conversation, ask your supervisor to help out.
I am not asking you to like everyone you work with, although that would be nice, just respect them.

About The Author

Chris GoudgeChris Goudge is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional with over 10 years experience currently practicing occupational health and safety in the health care sector. Broad experience in developing, implementing and managing health and safety systems for multi site, multi jurisdictional operations in manufacturing and health care with a focus on accident reduction, risk mitigation and development of a self sustaining safety culture.