Fam­ily feud

Re­la­tion­ship-build­ing strate­gies to help you and your col­leagues get along

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

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!

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