The Happiness Project

Eight Tips for Working More Happily With Your Colleagues.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 8 tips for working more happily with your colleagues.

Last week’s tips offered sixteen suggestions for feeling happier at work by tackling aspects of your work space and your day. But actually, your relationships with your co-workers likely has more influence on your happiness.

Maybe you have lots of co-workers – or maybe, like me, you work by yourself so you have to fashion your own “colleagues.” Here are nine strategies that I’ve used at various point in my work life:

1. Although some people believe it’s best to keep work life and personal life separate, and therefore avoid making friends with colleagues, for most people, having strong friendships makes work more fun . Science supports this: having close relationships is essential to happiness, strengthens the immune system, and reduces anxiety. However…

2. If you’re in a long-term relationship, avoid creating situations that might put you in the path of temptation. (Here are five tips to avoid having an office affair .)

3. If you work alone, take time to mix with other people . Socializing boosts the moods of introverts, as well as extroverts. I love having long stretches when I work by myself in silence, but I’ve realized that I need to make several appointments each week to put me in contact with other people.

4. Each week, walk around your office and talk to a few people you don’t know well. You’ll feel more comfortable socially, plus knowing more people facilitates work flow. Remember the mere exposure effect, as well: repeated exposure makes people like music, faces, even nonsense syllables, better. That means that the more often you see someone, the more intelligent and attractive that person will seem.

5. Apply the Eighth Commandment: Identify the problem . If a colleague gets under your skin, figure out why. I used to work with a guy who enraged me at every meeting. When I started analyzing his techniques, to understand why he was having that effect on me, I became fascinated with the brilliance of his subtle put-downs. (For a list of his strategies, see my book Power Money Fame Sex , chapter 3.)

6. Apply the Twelfth Commandment, There is only love . This commandment was inspired by a friend who took a job where she knew she’d have a difficult boss. From the beginning, she told herself, ” There is only love .” She doesn’t allow herself to criticize her boss, even in her own mind, and won’t listen to anyone else’s criticism. She says it’s tough to do, but it has made her job far easier.

7. Say “Good morning” to everyone . This is polite, and it will also help you feel like you have a small connection to everyone you see. That makes your workplace seem more friendly and warm.

8. Cut people slack . You never know what’s going on in people’s lives, and it’s always better to err on the side of being forgiving, not taking things personally, and trying to see the funny side of circumstances.

What am I missing? What are some strategies that you’ve used to work more happily with your colleagues?

* Zoikes! There’s a group for people doing happiness projects forming in Enid, Oklahoma that already has 26 members! Fantastic! If you’d like to start a group, yourself, click here for the starter kit. If you want to connect with other leaders starting groups, check out this discussion . If you want to see if a group is forming in your area, check here (this list looks pretty clunky; we’ll make it more visually appealing at some point but just wanted to get the list going at this point).