Improving Relationships at Work

  1. Be Transparent – If you are having a conflict with an employee or co-worker, transparency is a great way to clear the air and attempt a fresh start. It’s also more assertive than it sounds.  Admitting that you made a mistake, didn’t set clear expectations, or mis-communicated takes away the other person’s ammunition.  Think about it.  Imagine an employee blaming you for their performance problems.  You meet with them and say, “I should have done a better job of setting expectations for your job.  I take responsibility for some of the problems we have been having”.  You just pre-empted and shut down the 10 minutes of blaming and finger-pointing they had planned.  You took all of their conflict “ammunition”.
  2. Be Appreciative – Research shows that people are motivated by recognition. We tend to focus our energy on the “problem” co-workers or the people who do us “favors”.  What about the folks who support us every day.  The people who never give you problems or refuse a request for assistance.  The team members who only hear from us when we need something (yeah those people). Sincere, truly sincere, appreciation is rare in the workplace and those who practice it stand out.
  3. Ask! Ask! Ask! – Be nosey! Like many of us, I am conflict adverse. Usually when I ask workshop clients about the source of workplace conflicts, the reply is “I don’t know why we clash, I never asked”. Every answer is the result of a question. You can’t truly resolve a conflict without knowing the core issue.  This is also true of co-workers we admire.  Asking about the source of conflict or the source of someone’s success let’s people know you care.  Asking the right questions takes the guess work out of creating, managing, or fixing relationships.
  4. Be Present – Remember names, remember conversations, remember interests. People want to know that when they interact with you it counts for something.  Be fully present when you meet and interact with co-workers and employees.  They will remember – that you remembered.
  5. Set Clear Expectations – and stick to them Set clear boundaries for your relationships. What behavior you will, and won’t, tolerate.  Even the most challenging co-workers and employees will eventually cooperate once they realize you can’t be manipulated.  Positive relationships will be reinforced when people realize you are consistent and trustworthy.