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August 6, 2019

How to Be More Considerate at Work – #MTtalk Roundup

Yolande Conradie


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"Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time." 

Thomas J. Watson, American Businessman

What Makes a Considerate Colleague?

Everybody has a different idea of what it means to be considerate. In my mind, consideration for others is the foundation of good manners. It means adjusting your actions and words in small ways to accommodate other people's needs and feelings.

When I was younger, I didn't understand why this was such a big issue. I always assumed that my mother was fussing about nothing when she reminded me to be more considerate.

But as I grew older, I realized that it's one of my most important values, and I'm grateful to my mother for teaching me to care about other people's feelings as much as my own.

While being considerate may not come naturally to some, it is a skill that can be honed and developed over time. Here are some simple steps you can take to become more considerate at work.

Start Small

Being considerate often involves doing something small for someone else. For example, making sure that there is a clean coffee cup for the next person, or helping your colleague to carry a large number of files. These small acts of kindness show that you don't only think of yourself, but that you're also mindful of others.

Share Your Space

When working in a shared office, consider that other people also need to feel comfortable in that space. Just because you don't mind leaving out dirty cutlery or trailing cables, that doesn't mean that your colleagues will feel the same.

Respect Other People's Time

Be considerate of other people's time. See to it that you're on time for work, meetings and social gatherings. And if something unforeseen happens, be sure to let people know, so that you don't keep them waiting.

By respecting other people's time, you show that you value them as much as yourself. Plus, they may feel more inclined to return the favor in the future!

Don't Be Afraid to Apologize

It's mature and thoughtful to apologize for your mistakes. If you said or did something that was uncalled for, say sorry. If you had your facts mixed up, say, "You're right, and thanks for correcting me," and learn from it. It's not a sign of weakness to admit when you're wrong, but rather a sign of inner strength and humility.

Be Polite

Having good manners and being polite means going out of your way to make other people feel at ease and respected. It may sound simple, but a well-placed "please" or "thank you" can go a long way, and will also boost your reputation.

Anticipate the Needs of Others

Spot opportunities to be helpful. Try to anticipate what someone is going to need next. For example, show a new colleague around the office, or offer them a drink. Learn to say, "How can I help you?" rather than, "Can I help you?"

Think Before You Speak/Act

Don't let your mood affect how you treat your peers. If you're having a bad day, don't suck them into it by being rude to them. Treat your colleagues with respect and thoughtfulness, even if you don't feel like doing so. It's the hallmark of emotional intelligence.

How to Be More Considerate at Work

During last Friday's #MTtalk we discussed how to be more considerate at work. Here are the questions we asked and some of the responses:

Q1. What's your definition of "being considerate"?

@SayItForwardNow To me, being considerate means interacting with everyone with an open heart, and with respect for who they are.

@iqurattariq Being considerate to me means respecting other person's boundaries and always evaluating your actions and their impact on others. Stepping on the I and moving toward We.

Q2. How can you demonstrate consideration?

@PmTwee It is as simple as you should treat others as you expect them to treat you.

@MicheleDD_MT Be kind and patient with people. Respect when they need "space" – emotionally and physically.

Q3. Is being considerate just about good manners, or is it more than that? Why?

@Jikster2009 Yes, I believe it is. Having good manners is an expectation (I know not everyone exhibits these, though). Being considerate is more about getting to the core of issues, realizing that actually, you might need to adapt your behavior to someone else entirely.

@imaginyst You can have the best manners in the world... and still be completely inconsiderate!  

Q4. In what ways might cultural difference redefine what considerate behavior looks like?

@ChaimShapiro For some religious folks, a handshake between a man and a woman is a serious issue.

@itstamaragt It comes down to educating ourselves on the cultural differences of others. The more we educate and understand, the easier it is to be considerate of these differences.  

Q5. In what ways might someone be "too" or "overly" considerate?

@Ganesh_Sabari When in the process of being considerate you lose your own identity.

@Midgie_MT Someone might be "too" considerate in that they rarely share or speak up for what they want and defer to the other person's ideas or suggestions.

Q6. What does a lack of consideration look like?

@harrisonia Improperly managing your hygiene, especially in the workplace or crowded spaces, is inconsiderate.

@LoneDigiMarketr It's often easier to feel like someone is being inconsiderate than to be able to describe it. When we feel like our needs and wants aren't being respected or considered, then we feel like we are out of consideration.

Q7. How would you deal with someone who is not being considerate in the workplace?

@Adaolasunmade Some people don't know they are being inconsiderate. Showing them how to be considerate may help.

@chiunya_tendai Sometimes it requires opening up to the person and expressing how you view their conduct. It assists them to improve in areas of concern.

Q8. How can you help others to become more considerate?

@BRAVOMedia1 Addressing a situation without "punishing" words but using thoughtful words that will hopefully lead them to awareness.

@JusChas Always educate when giving constructive criticism.

Q9. What could someone do to demonstrate that they are being considerate toward you?

@imaginyst So simple – doing what has been asked or agreed upon! Bringing up questions or concerns that may be stopping progression BEFORE the deadline. Self-evaluation would help too.

@SizweMoyo Make sure you throw your rubbish into the dustbin. If you can't find one, put it in your pocket until you find another one.  

Q10. Who will you demonstrate consideration toward this week/month, and how?

@BrainBlenderTec I'm always considerate. I still believe in being a gentleman even though it's a relic in today's world.

@Yolande_MT I will meet others where they are at and not expect them to be where I am.

Coming Up

One of the ways you can be more considerate at work is to support your colleague through a difficult time.

Next time on #MTtalk, we're going to talk about how to support an anxious or traumatized colleague. In our Twitter poll this week, we'd like to know what you find difficult when supporting an anxious or traumatized colleague. Cast your vote here.


In the meantime, here are some resources relating to the topic we discussed. (Note that all readers can access a few of these free each month, while our Premium Club members and Corporate users have unlimited or exclusive access to them all.)

Conflict Resolution

Managing an Aging Team

Health and Hygiene at Work

Communicating With Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Colleagues

Good Manners in the Office


Five Ways to Deal With Rudeness in the Workplace

Gable's Four Responses to Good News

Cross-Cultural Business Etiquette

Transactional Analysis

How to Be Tactful

Perceptual Positions

How to Apologize

Avoiding Cross-Cultural Faux Pas: Clothes

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2 comments on “How to Be More Considerate at Work – #MTtalk Roundup”

  1. All well and good, but the author has clearly never worked in a bug law firm. Sounds like something cribbed from a self help book.

    1. True - I've never worked for a law firm. However, these are some of the principles I live by.
      I think being considerate and having good manners come about as a result of values and principles - not self-help books.

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