5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Relationships With Your Coworkers

Updated on June 4, 2020
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Kate has over eight years of experience as an employment and personal injury legal executive. She runs LawCat, a legal explanations website.

5 Ways to Improve Your Work Relationships

Unless you are lucky enough to have been born into money or win the lottery, chances are, at some point in your life, you are going to have to get a job.

Unless you work in a lighthouse, it is extremely likely that your job will involve working with other people and sometimes, working with other people can be difficult. Building satisfying working relationships with your co-workers is a worthwhile investment. You will probably spend more time each week with your co-workers than with your family and friends, so investing in these relationships is wise. This article will explain five simple practices you can undertake to improve and maintain good relationships with those you work with.

1. Let Inconsequential Upsets Go

Sometimes your co-workers, subordinates, and boss will do something that will irritate you.

Things will happen that will make you angry or upset, and you will have little say in how these actions affect you. Some co-workers will have little habits that irritate you, and if that individual cannot be avoided, you must learn to deal with it.

Letting yourself get worked up over something inconsequential that irritates you will only hurt you and your relationships with those around you. If you are irrationally angry at someone, it will influence how you deal with them, damaging your relationship with that person directly. Your anger will also spread to those around you. Anger can be palpable at times, and human beings are naturally sensitive to each other’s moods if you are angry all the time it will affect how others view you and how they interact with you.

When someone has an irritating habit, instead of letting yourself getting angry, take a moment to see this not as an irritation but as an opportunity to strengthen your patience and tolerance.

Control and focus on your breathing, take slow, intentional breaths, in for the count of five and out for the count of seven. When we are angry we tend to breath faster, slowing your breathing lets you take control of your body and your emotion. After a few intentional breathes take another moment to acknowledge your irritation and its source. When you look at the source in a calmer state of mind, you will be more able to recognise that it is a minor infringement. Ask yourself will it matter in five hours, five days? Five months? If the answer is no, then this short reflective time will allow you to see that. Keep in mind that you are not gaining anything positive by remaining angry. Instead, you are actively damaging yourself and your relationships with your co-workers.

The more you practice this, the faster it will happen until it becomes automatic.

2. Be Considerate of Others

When you work in an environment with other people, it is easy to feel like no one cares about how they affect you. It’s very easy to slip into the mindset of “Well, they don’t care, so neither will I,” Don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap.

Try to be considerate of your co-workers, be aware of their feelings, their situation and their efforts. If you do this, you will notice that they respond to you in a much more productive and welcoming manner than they do to those who are not considerate.

Being considerate doesn’t always have to mean going to great lengths, it can be as simple as keeping your workspace clean, being punctual and being polite. Thanking someone for a job they have done, acknowledging that someone has carried out their task well or to the standard required can go a long way. Being polite shows that you have an awareness of other people’s feelings and that you are taking them into consideration when you interact with them.

Being patient, even when you don’t feel patient, is an extremely successful way to develop sincere and long-lasting relationships with your co-workers. It can be a simple as acknowledging someone else’s mistake, making an effort to understand why they made the error, and taking the time to correct them. Patience is not difficult to understand, but due to the sometimes volatile nature of the workplace, it can be one of the most difficult to maintain.

Developing your empathy is a critical skill if you are going to build positive working relationships with your co-workers. Taking the time to understand someone else’s perspective is a valuable and beneficial tool to have in your emotional repertoire. IT can help you see situations in a new light and open up new solutions to a myriad of issues caused by poor communication and lack of understanding.

Be Considerate

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3. Stand Up for Yourself In a Calm Manner

While being considerate is a key aspect of relationship building, you do not want to take it too far and become someone who is walked over repeatedly. Situations will arise where you need to stand up for yourself. However, standing up for yourself in the right way can be difficult and may take time to master.

You need to be assertive and not aggressive. It is easy to lash out and be aggressive when someone has upset you, however, take a moment to do the breathing exercise talked about earlier and calm down. When you discuss matters in a calmer state of mind, you are far less likely to be seen as angry, irrational and aggressive. Also, consider the language you use when raising your concern, try not to use accusatory language, a simple change in phrasing can be the difference in how you are received. Saying “You don’t listen to me when I speak,” is a lot more aggressive than “I sometimes feel talked over during discussions.” The second phrasing is far more likely to be positively received.

Learn the word no. You should not feel guilty for saying no when people ask you for things, be it your time, your work or your opinion. However, again phrasing is important, just barking out the word no is going to be negatively received. However, explaining that you’re not able to do X, Y, Z at the moment because of A, B, C is far more likely to get an understanding and positive response.

4. Set a Good Example

Sometimes it can feel frustrating to think that you are the only person making any effort in building positive and productive working relationships. It can be easy to feel slighted when you make an effort to understand someone else’s perspective when they struggle, yet when you need a little help, you receive harsh words and criticism in return. However, when you feel this way you should take a few moments to centre yourself and remind yourself that you are setting an example.

Leading by example is a recognised and respected leadership method. When people see that you are well received, productive and prosperous, they will want to emulate that, and gradually the entire workforce can be lifted up.

It will all take time but remember you are doing this for your benefit as well as those around you. Positive and productive relationships in the workplace will benefit you, in the short and long term. In the short term, good working relationships will reduce stress, enhance productivity and instil an overall sense of wellbeing in the workplace. In the long term you will develop your reputation as someone who is a pleasure to work with and for, and when an opportunity arises, it will be far more likely that it will go to the person who is benefiting the workplace than to someone who only has a negative impact.

5. Accept That There Will Be Some People You Do Not Get Along With

You’re never going to be friends with everyone in the workplace, that is not what this article is about. This article is teaching you methods and techniques that will allow you to build professional working relationships. These relationships may develop into friendships later, but that is entirely up to you.

That being said, there will be times when no matter how much work you put into the relationship, no matter how understanding and patient you are, there will be someone who you just cannot ‘click’ with. However, you will still have to work with them, and you will need to manage how you do this, to prevent the poor relationship from poisoning the rest of your working relationships.

Acting professional with them is key, you should always behave in a professional manner with your co-workers. This can include having open discussions with them and listening to their opinions and thoughts on the given issue. You should not dismiss their input just because you don’t like them; you certainly should not ignore them or give them the silent treatment.

Keep your distaste to yourself, if you find someone difficult to work with you should refrain from discussing this casually with your other co-workers. ‘office politics’ can poison a workforce in record time. You can find yourself labelled as a gossip, your co-workers will lose their trust and faith in you, and you can find yourself brought up on disciplinary charges if you go too far with the casual slander of another worker. However, while casual gossip should be avoided at all costs, if there is a genuine issue that is affecting your work then you should discuss it with your superior.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Katie


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