Work relationships can often be filled with friction when work situations throw different and sometimes difficult personalities together. It can seem especially difficult to get along with co-workers when communication breaks down and people jump to conclusions. However, adhering to a few simple rules in the workplace can help to mitigate problems and create a happier and more productive environment for everyone.
Tip #1: Communicate
A major reason that people encounter problems with co-workers, superiors, subordinates and customers in the workplace is lack of communication. Taking the time to thoroughly communicate any new procedures or policies helps to prevent confusion and arguments later on. Additionally, communicating how you feel in an honest and non-threatening way can also help to open the door for effective problem solving. If you’re stuck doing all the work because your co-worker comes in late every day, don’t spend your day fuming and glaring at him. Talk to him, and talk to your superior. Let them both know how the situation impacts you and what an ideal solution would look like to you. Remember too that communication is a two-way street, and it also requires listening as well as speaking.
Tip #2: Stay Positive
One way to quickly derail a work relationship is by being continuously negative. Staying positive will have an uplifting impact on the people who surround you. Negativity brings everyone around you down and can leave a bad impression on customers. A negative environment will also draw more negative people and keep positive people away. A positive attitude inspires others and can encourage people to focus on what’s good at work rather than what’s bad.
Tip #3: Give People the Benefit of the Doubt
Too often workplace friction results from people jumping to conclusions or assuming negative intentions without getting all the facts. If someone you work with seems to have done something wrong, give her the benefit of the doubt while you try to figure out what happened. Assuming negative intentions or getting into an argument doesn’t solve any problems and can create hostility in a situation where someone made an innocent mistake or had other benign reasons behind their actions.
Tip #4: Treat Others with Respect
When you treat other people respectfully in the workplace, they’re more likely to treat you respectfully as well. In addition, a respectful atmosphere is much more pleasant to work in than an atmosphere of disrespect. You can show your respect to others by avoiding things like talking behind peoples’ backs, calling people names or engaging in ego drama. You can also create a respectful atmosphere by giving people the benefit of the doubt, giving honest praise and feedback to those around you, and attempting to help others when you can.
Tip #5: Having Healthy Boundaries and Respecting those of Others
Workplace relationships sometimes go awry because of boundary problems. In some cases, one person might behave in an invasive manner, calling co-workers, supervisors or subordinates at home when it’s not necessary. Or he or she might invade a person’s space or ask lots of personal questions the other person doesn’t want to discuss at work. In other cases, a person may not have strong enough boundaries and may spend too much time at work or engaged in work-related activities. In this case, the person may become depleted and resentful, leading to negative work relationships over time. Maintaining healthy boundaries and being respectful of those of others helps to create positive work relationships.
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Carol Sand MAP is a career counselor in Houston, TX offering skills assessments, interviewing tips, and networking advice for job seekers and career changers.