Relationship-building strategies to help you and your colleagues get along
IT’S often been said workplaces are much like families and, in fact, most organizations work hard to create what they call a “family atmosphere.” By this we mean a harmonistic family where everyone gets along and works well together.
Yet, a workplace where everyone consistently gets along is indeed difficult to achieve. That’s because at some point, someone will cause friction through their words or behaviour. For instance, one person might display a condescending attitude while another might engage in activities or comments that plainly show lack of respect. As well, envy and jealousy among workers can often arise. Any of these incidents starts a chain of events that can lead to outright war between employees.
Let’s face it; it’s not unusual for workers to get frustrated with each other once in awhile. For instance, a recent survey of business leaders identified the most frequent frustration with colleagues was due to sloppy work and a lack of attention to detail while gossiping and office politics came a close second. Dealing with colleagues who were perpetually late and individuals who constantly stole credit for someone else’s work was next on the list of pet peeves.
Some people get so frustrated they simply give up and move on to another job. I agree, resigning is one option to solving the problem, but you need to keep in mind tigers and sharks are lurking in every workplace. The result is you might just be running away only to find you’ve simply moved from the proverbial “frying pan to the fire.” That’s because no matter where you go, it’s likely you’ll encounter at least one fellow employee with whom you cannot establish a satisfactory working relationship and/or whom you will perceive as a tiger or shark biting at your shins.
I admit this workplace scenario can be stressful, but there are relationship building strategies you should try before giving up or feeling a need to turn to the boss for help.
First of all, understand and accept that you don’t actually have to like someone in order to work with them. Yes, it’s stressful but the first and best strategy is to make every effort to find a solution to your collegial relationship before you complain to the boss, start looking for another job
or simply jumping ship.
The following tips will provide some guidance as you work toward improving relationships.
Examine your own reactions — Most of us learned how to cope with conflict and anger from our childhood upbringing. Take a moment and examine what approach was taught in your home. For instance, do you see conflict from a competitive win/lose point of view? Next, determine if you’re continuing to use your learned conflict-management style. Review this and identify whether or not it’s working for you. It’s surprising how much old baggage we drag along with us.
Keep collegial behaviour in perspective — When you get upset, more than likely you are interpreting your colleague’s behaviour as a personal slap in the face. In fact, you might lose your temper and flare out at the other person. Be calm. Review the colleague’s standard responses and look for patterns in their behaviour. This helps you to understand where the individual is coming from and remember, their behaviour might also have been learned in childhood!