How to Communicate Effectively to Peers & Coworkers

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Working people spend a significant portion of their day on the job. The quality of the interaction at work is an important factor that determines job satisfaction. As in any other relationship, communication with coworkers needs to be built up one step at a time. For effective communication with coworkers, it is important to take the initiative to be pleasant and helpful even as you remain assertive. There may be a few exceptions, but generally what you give is what you get.

Be polite in speaking to your peers at office. Value other people’s time as much as you value your own. Before you begin discussing something, ask your coworker if it is the right time to talk, and give a true picture of how much time you expect to take. Show grace in accepting the fact that others have their own work priorities and are not obligated to put your interest before their own.

Use the three magic words “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” as often as required. Don’t act as if you are entitled to a coworker’s help, request her to assist you and thank her when you have finished. Apologize for anything you did which caused a problem to your coworker, and take care not to repeat that action.

Listen to what your coworkers have to say. Pay attention, maintain eye contact, and show your interest by nodding, or saying, “I see.” Don’t allow your gaze to wander or eyes to glaze over; this indicates your mind is elsewhere. Let people finish what they are saying before you respond.

Do something out of kindness for your coworkers. If a colleague says he is too busy to take a break for lunch, offer to get him some sandwiches. If someone is rushing to meet a deadline while you are relatively free, offer to help.

Acknowledge publicly your coworker’s efforts on a project. When you receive praise for a job well done, gently draw the speaker’s attention to your colleague’s contribution. This willingness to share success can reduce any streak of unhealthy competition among coworkers.

Observe your coworkers and learn to understand their state of mind from body language. Provide a friendly pat when they are a bit down, and avoid raising stressful issues when they seem to be irritated.

Discuss privately any issues that arise between you and a coworker. If you hear through the office grapevine that a colleague has been making negative comments about you, don’t jump to the conclusion that that report must be true. Instead, meet him when he is alone, say that you heard he made negative comments about you and ask if that is true.


Be enthusiastic about your work and maintain a positive attitude. If you are constantly complaining about your workload, finding fault with your boss or coworkers or with the way things are run at your workplace, it makes for a disturbing atmosphere for the people who work with you.


Never gossip about your colleagues with others in your organization. What you say once eventually reaches the person you target and often, in a greatly distorted form.