Most of us want to enjoy positive relationships in our workplaces, yet the workplace is often a source of relational frustration. Here are five tips to help you mitigate some of the tension that occurs in workplace relationships.
Understand personalities. Begin to study the people you work with. What makes them tick? What ticks them off? Over time, you can see patterns and learn to smile about some tendencies. You can also develop strategies when you know what you are dealing with. For example, if your co-worker is very talkative when you walk in the door, plan your arrival time to be a bit earlier than him or her so that you are already busy at your desk when they come in. Have a boss that is a quick mover and decisive? Don’t go into his office with information that will take several minutes to download. Tell him what you need from him in a “bottom line” fashion, and then ask if he wants rationale.
Accept that everyone is different. This is not new advice. But we often have trouble making the connection between saying we understand this concept and living it. If you feel a rise in your blood pressure whenever someone thinks differently than you do, you might want to begin to examine why it is so important to you to be around “Yes” people. Successful companies invite respectful disagreement. It often helps create new ideas and solutions.
Find something to be thankful for. Watch for coworkers to do something well and thank them for it. Make it a practice to say “thank you” at least a couple of times a week. (Don’t overdo this or it will seem insincere after awhile. This is usually not a danger in most workplaces though.) People crave a pat on the back, and encouragers often receive kindness and cooperation from others in exchange.
Engage in non-work conversation. I know an individual who has build great relationships with people she regularly needs info from. They are willing to break their necks for her because she simply treats them well and engages in reasonable conversation with them that does not always center just around work. Yes, you can overdo workplace chit-chat, but relationships are fluid and personal/work lives will intersect no matter how much you try to divide it. So instead, build bridges and relationships that will naturally lead to productivity.
Lighten up. Feeling irritated more and more often lately? Is it possible that YOU are at least part of the problem? Step back and think about why you think the world is against you (or your coworkers.) Be willing to see the hard things about yourself and make some changes.
While we can’t create perfect workplaces, we can do our part to make them more pleasant…for ourselves and everyone else.
Remember: This is the post that was shared when my Boost Your Workplace Morale book came out. (Note that some promotional info no longer applies, but there is still helpful and fun info!)
Benefit from: My book, Boost Your Workplace Morale gives lots of practical ideas for easing tension at work. You may also be interested in my “Strife vs. Peace” workplace Bible study download. Only $1.99!
Engage: What causes the most tension at your workplace? People, workload, or lack of resources?
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