Why You Should Get Along With Coworkers

A recent study in the journal Health Psychology provides more evidence for what most of us know intuitively—getting along with people at work is good for you. The study reports that having a positive relationship with coworkers has long-term mental and physical health benefits.

Many research studies have explored the health value of social relationships, including those in the workplace. After all, most of us spend a significant portion of lives at work. The work environment represents a social system in which participants engage in organizational activities to attain collective goals. Of course, when coworkers get along, it helps the company do what it's supposed to do. However, work relationships also fulfill innate social and psychological needs and directly affect individuals' job satisfaction. In other words, it's not just about the specifics of your job; it's also about the people you work with.

The Benefits of Positive Relationships at Work

Relationships provide social support and integration. There's evidence that the perceived availability—as well as the actual receipt-of social support buffers the effect of stress and reduces psychological distress, depression, and anxiety. Increased social integration, or participation in a range of social relationships, even affects your mortality. People who are socially integrated are more likely to survive from heart attacks, have less risk of cancer recurrence, depression and anxiety, and experience less severe cognitive decline as they age.

An article in Family Practice Management, a journal for physicians in private practice, describes seven characteristics of successful work relationships.

  • Trust
  • Diversity-differences in the way people view the world
  • Mindfulness-being open to new ideas and feeling free to express oneself
  • Interrelatedness-being sensitive to the task at hand and how your work affects others
  • Respect
  • A mix of social and task-related relationships
  • Effective communications

With a few behavior modifications, you can significantly improve your relationship with your coworkers.

  • Respect others' differences
  • Be a positive thinker
  • Listen
  • Show appreciation for your coworkers and ask them for their thoughts and opinions
  • Recognize your own emotions and monitor your non-verbal communications
  • Set appropriate boundaries
  • Admit your mistakes
  • Don't jump to conclusions
  • Do your job well and pitch in to help when you can
  • Make small talk and get to know your colleagues as people
  • Resolve conflicts quickly before they have a chance to escalate
  • Don't be a part of workplace gossip


Medical News Today. "Getting Along With Co-Workers Can Significantly Increase Your Lifespan." Web. 08 August 2011. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/232339.php

LibrarySupportStaff.com. "Co- Worker Relationships." Web.


Kase, Larina. "Improve Your Work Relationships." Web. 4 September 2009.




Robinson, Lawrence, Segal, Jeanne, Ph. D., and Segal, Robert, M.A  "IMPROVING COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN BUSINESS AND RELATIONSHIPS." HelpGuide.org. Web. July 2011. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq4_emotion_communicates.htm

Tallia, Alfred F., MD, MPH, Lanham, Holly J., MBA, McDaniel, Jr., Reuben R. EdD, and Crabtree, Benjamin F., PhD. "Seven Characteristics of Successful Work Relationships." Family Practice Management 13(1): (2006): 47-50. Web. http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2006/0100/p47.html

Sheldon Cohen. "Social Relationships and Health." American Psychologist (2004): 676-684. Web.


American Psychological Association. "Social relationships matter in job satisfaction." Monitor on Psychology 38( 4) (2007): 14. Web. http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr07/social.aspx

Ilies, Remus and Johnson, Michael D. "Social Interactions at Work: Their Influence on Affective Experiences and Job Satisfaction." Interactions. Web. https://www.msu.edu/~john1781/interactions.pdf