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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Cohen

9 Ways to Enhance Your Workplace Relationships

As COVID-19 variants surge, some companies have delayed their return to the office.

But team members still need to collaborate.

They need to work together, make an effort to understand each other, and connect.

The truth is that romantic or otherwise, relationships take work. All relationships. And professional relationships are no exception. So regardless of where your organization falls on the Great 2021 Return-to-Work Debate, employers need to make sure they’re encouraging their people to build healthy, empowering connections.

This will increase team member satisfaction, reduce turnover, and fuel productivity.

Sounds pretty good for everyone involved, right?

With that, here are nine ways companies can elevate their workplace relationships:

1. Practice empathy.

Empathy means putting yourself in others’ proverbial shoes, being mindful of your colleagues’ experiences, and recognizing that everyone is going through something. It involves being mindful of the fact that we all have challenges, even if they aren’t visible from the outside.

Perhaps most importantly, workers should take the time to listen to one another. By really absorbing what others are saying, we can develop stronger relationships and work better—together.

2. Refrain from venting to colleagues.

I’m (unfortunately) the last person to speak out against the healing power of a good complaint. After spending a significant chunk of my childhood in France, where culturally, a typical response to “how are you?” is a long list of your daily woes, it’s been tough to reclaim the sense of optimism I can only hope is still hiding in there somewhere.

Now, I recognize that no one is happy all the time. It’s also perfectly natural to feel the urge to vent about work every now and again. Complaining to your colleagues, however, might not deliver the best outcome. Aim to talk to your friends outside of work instead—because at the office, complaints or confrontations can get misconstrued. And really, there’s no need for that.

3. Assess what you can learn from others.

Most workers need to interact with people outside their department. Their colleagues’ skills might not necessarily align with their own—which is exactly what makes teams complex and strong. Yet, not everyone considers what they can learn from others when going about their daily tasks.

That said, an open mind, and a willingness to learn, can deepen your professional relationships. It can also help you build crucial skills. So if you’re a designer looking to improve your written communication, or a member of the sales team hoping to dive into marketing, aim to truly make a point of seeing what you can learn from others at work each day.

4. Don’t take your colleague’s stress personally.

Curious about your coworker’s tone from that early-morning Slack message? Feeling uncertain about your supervisor’s motives in offering such harsh feedback? Don’t take anything personally. If we’re sensing an attitude, chances are it has nothing to do with us.

Again, this is where practicing empathy comes in. The vast majority of the time, people aren’t actually out to get one another—so instead of assuming the worst, know that the person you’re dealing with could be stressed or anxious. If someone is irritated that you’re “bothering” them with a question, they could just be under a tight deadline, or under stress at home.

5. Wait before you send that angry email.

To segue off the above workplace relationship-building strategy, breathe and count to 10 before you send that heated email to the coworker who blew you off yesterday. Refrain from saying anything you’ll regret. Now, this is important in all settings, but especially professionally.

Sometimes we forget that we’re talking to real, live human beings when we send off nasty messages. We also need to take the time to process what’s really irritating us before we reach out to others and blame them. Example: If you’re sleep-deprived and dealing with a new baby, maybe the sale that fell through isn’t quite as dire as you initially thought.

6. Say thank you.

No matter how busy you are, be sure to thank others for their time and effort. Express gratitude to the coworkers who deliver their best work each day, even if it isn’t up to par from where you’re standing. Conversely, thank people who give you tough love or even criticize you for their transparent communication.

This sense of openness can go a long way. It can also spread throughout the office, showing others that you’re all on the same team—working toward a common goal. In short, it reveals that no matter where you fall on the corporate hierarchy, you and your colleagues are equals.

7. Respect others’ time.

In an organizational setting, workers rely on their peers to perform certain tasks. However, there might be a specific sequence involved. And while the goal is to get everything done on time, we need to respect the process. Inherent to this is a sense of respect for others’ time.

So, before you decide your coworker is slacking, consider all the factors that might be at play. Maybe they’re waiting on someone, or maybe they have another task that takes precedent over the one you’re tackling together. Whatever the circumstances, avoid jumping to conclusions—and approach the situation by acknowledging your peer’s time and commitments.

8. Acknowledge your mistakes.

Mistakes happen to the best of us. We’ve all been there. And while we can sit and wallow, that doesn’t do much in the way of fostering a positive work environment. Instead, we must acknowledge our mistakes, and then learn from them.

So rather than being defensive, or blaming others, admit to your shortcomings. From there, consider a number of potential solutions that might help to rectify the problem. Whether this means outsourcing some of your work or asking others for help, the best thing you can do is display a healthy degree of vulnerability—and communicate accordingly.

9. Schedule time to socialize.

I’m not saying you need to hit up happy hour or socialize with your colleagues. These are certainly options, within reason, but social activities outside of office hours shouldn’t be mandatory. What should be required of the whole team, however, is getting to know one another.

Even if it’s just for a weekly or monthly touch-base gathering during work hours—in person or on Zoom, depending on your current setup—interacting with your colleagues outside the daily grind can actually make you more productive. You’ll learn how others communicate, appreciate what your peers bring to the table, and get a sense of who each individual is as a person.

With these strategies in your arsenal, you can make empowering decisions at work and build lasting, sustainable relationships with your colleagues. Regardless of your industry, the above tools can help you elevate your communication—both at work and in life.

Contact Umbrella Security Services for Your Free Consultation Today

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