You spend a significant portion of your time at work, so it's nice to get along well with your co-workers. If you're struggling to fit in or find common ground with different people in the workplace, try a few simple tips to improve your communication and earn respect.

Show Genuine Interest in Their Lives

Not sure how to make small talk with your co-workers? Start by asking them about their own lives. It shows you care about them as a person and take an interest in their lives beyond the workplace. For example, you can lend a sympathetic ear when your coworkers want to open up about personal issues. However, it may take time for your coworkers to feel comfortable opening up to you. 

Establish a personal connection by asking about their family members. Do they have any children? Try to learn the names of your coworkers' significant others, children, or pets. You'll earn respect by merely asking, "How are Jill and Stephen?" every so often -- especially when you get the names correct. People love to talk about their kids, and this can help open lines of communication.

Volunteer Without Over-Committing

When the opportunity arises, volunteer to take on extra responsibilities as long as doing so won't cause you additional stress. For example, if a coworker has fallen behind, offer to take a few tasks off his or her plate. 

That simple gesture shows that you care about your co-workers' well-being and that they can rely on you for support. They may even feel inclined to return the favor if you get overwhelmed in the future.

Try to Understand Their Perspective

If you work with someone who has different beliefs and opinions, try to understand their perspective rather than passing judgment. Put yourself in their shoes. What causes them to see the world differently? 

On the flip side, if you feel like you don't like someone, dig deeper into your feelings to understand why. Can you find common ground on which to build a relationship? You can use this "seek first to understand" approach to open lines of communication and let go of negative emotions that could distract you from your work. 

Make Requests Instead of Complaints

Don't get in the habit of complaining about a problem rather than fixing it. If you have trouble with someone, bypass the gossip sessions, and go straight to the source. 

Tell that co-worker what the problem is and what they can do to fix it. Learn additional conflict management techniques -- either from your manager, HR department, or leadership courses -- to keep respectful and productive lines of communication open with different people in the workplace. 

You Won't Be Best Friends With Everyone

It's normal to want to feel accepted by everyone—unfortunately, there'll always be someone who you struggle to understand. In the workplace, we're expected to put aside our differences and come together. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but it's always worth putting in a solid effort. 

Try not to take it too personally if you work with someone who doesn't seem interested in making the same effort or in opening up to you. You can't force anyone to like you. You only need your coworkers to communicate about work-related tasks. 

If you feel like a serious communication problem exists between you and others to the point where it affects your work, talk to your manager about possible solutions.