How to Make Work a Happier Place

Did you ever work with someone who walked in every morning and said “Good Morning” with a smile on their face? Not the guy who says good morning out of habit, someone whose positive presence you really feel.

I used to work with a guy who every morning, would walk in with a big smile on his face and say good morning to everyone and then say something funny. He would set the tone for the day for many people. Even when he was having a bad day, he would have a great attitude. He was a pleasure to be around.

At the same company, I worked with another guy who was miserable. Every day he would walk in grumbling about something. Even his compliments were back handed.

Both of these co-workers had an impact on the mood at work. People who sat next to the happy guy were much happier at work. They would laugh, joke and always be smiling. Over by the other guy, people were quiet, kept their heads down and tried to stay out of the grumpy guy’s way.

You can actually change the mood of your workplace. Believe or not, moods are contagious, and if we intentionally try to set a positive mood, it can make others feel positive as well. It may sound trivial, but people spend so much time at work, isn’t it better to be in a pleasant place?

Everyone Contributes to a Happier Work Environment

Management can play a big part in creating a happy work environment, but everyone else can as well. Many people already do several of the following things, but there is always a way to do more.

Start the Morning Right

Make a point to smile and say good morning to those around you. Ask them (sincerely) how they are, what they are working on or what’s new. Sometimes, just a little extra can go a far way to make a lighter, friendlier atmosphere at work. When done consistently, other people will also start doing this.

Celebrate Successes

Even if it is something small, make a point to go over to someone and congratulate them. The more people acknowledge the contributions of others, the more valued people feel.

Show Gratitude

Show appreciation for small things more often. Thank someone when they least expect it. Express thanks for something they have done which has brightened your day. Show admiration for one of their skills and let them know how it is valued.

Ask for Opinions

Not to be confused with asking someone to help with a specific task, this is a short question with (usually) a short answer. It is a good way to start a conversation and at the same time show someone their opinions are valuable. It can be simple questions like: What is the best way to approach Andy about next week’s presentation? What did you think about the new project reporting proposed in yesterday’s meeting?

Be Open to Different Ideas

When someone disagrees, don’t argue. Acknowledge they have an interesting or different way of looking at things. Agree to think it over (and then do so). Doing this makes the other person feel heard and valued.

Reach Out to Someone New

Don’t limit yourself to the same few people you have lunch with every day. Reach out to someone new and ask them to join you (or your group) for lunch, go for a walk or just chat about what they are working on. Make people feel like an insider more than an outsider.

Be Unexpectedly Kind

Random acts of kindness are a quick way to set a nice tone. Are you running out for coffee? Offer to get some for a co-worker. Do you see someone carrying something heavy? Offer to help.

By being intentional and mindful in actions and communications, by showing respect, trust and gratitude, everyone can influence the work environment. If you want to make work a happier place, start with how your own actions impact others.

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