When we start a new job, after worrying about what we will have to do – that is the practicalities of the job – the next major worry is sure to be “What will the people be like?” Much of the stress arising from work comes from the relationships we form at our work place.
Relationships are always complex issues simple because people are complex, and the amount of time we spent at work means that the people we work with have a real affect on our life. The strain caused by bad work relationships can assume depressive proportions and affect our personal relationships as well as our health.
The fact is that maintaining comfortable relationships takes work; and more importantly, good communication skills. As relationships depend on human interaction it is the way that we communicate that makes that interaction meaningful or misunderstood. Think; how many friendships have been broken because someone said something that caused hurt. There was probably no intention to do so, but once the misunderstanding had occurred it can be very difficult to remove the offence even after apologies and explanations.
So it is the way that you connect, the way you share your experiences and knowledge that builds the bonds of good relationships. So here are Ten Tips for communicating in the work place.
Consider your body language. – When we communicate, our words are only part of the message. Our posture and facial expressions betray our true feelings; and when these are opposite to the words we are using our listeners will believe our body language. They may not understand why they feel we are not to be trusted, but they will feel it.
Modulate your vocal character – the tone of our voice, the volume we use and the rate we speak all tell the listener how we feel about what we are saying. Again our words and our vocal qualities need to be in tune, or our listeners will not believe our message. Match voice to the message; avoid loud aggressive vocals on a message of reconciliation.
Be honest – if your voice and body language are in tune with what you are saying people will believe you, so make sure that what you say is honest and trustworthy. Lies and misinformation create lack of trust and can prevent you dealing with the real issues. Relationships rely on honesty.
Talk Over Problems – If you avoid discussing possible problems it will not make the problem go away, it will merely make it fester. So if you have a concern then express it and communicate the problem to the person involved. Discussing potential problems means that your viewpoint can be understood and explanations and solutions can be sought.
Be assertive rather than aggressive – When we are faced with aggression we become defensive; so even if you feel passionately about something frame your thoughts in an assertive manner. Assertive means that you put your point of view across firmly with honesty, but taking into account the rights of other people to hold a different point of view. Assertiveness does not lead to denigration of others; aggression often does.
Stick to the facts – When you have something to say which may generate disapproval or even conflict, maintain a clear factual approach. Keep your emotions out of the equation if at all possible, and put your point of view across clearly and calmly. Maintain the focus and don’t be led into a heated discussion off the topic.
Confront the issue – if you don’t face issues or problems you will simply allow them to fester and by brooding on them you will escalate tension, breed resentment and a sense of personal injury. By all means if you have a real sense of injury wait until you can discuss it calmly but wait no longer than that.
Share the love! – this means telling people when you really appreciate what they have done. This reinforces positive behaviour and makes them feel good. This feeling engenders a bond between you and them. A quick word of appreciation is often all it needs to keep a work relationship on track.
Share the Laughter – moods are contagious. You only have to think about the coffee you shared with a friend who was miserable and how that mood rubbed off on you. Or how uplifted you were after ten minutes with someone feeling really happy. When we are happy our body language sends subtle signals to others which affects their reaction.
And finally; be the one to take the first step – relationships will have their ups and downs, and when there is strain between yourself and a work colleague be the one to take the first step towards resolution. Don’t let pride or a sense of resentment interfere with good sense. Difficult and strained relationships affect everybody and can lead to a real breakdown in team cohesion. Approach the person, remembering the tips above. The direct approach can help diffuse bad feelings and tension and clear the air.
The pressure in business today can lead to tense and stressful workplaces. Our relationships under difficulty situations do have an affect on our health and wellbeing. Learning how to relate to others in the workplace can lead to a sense of harmony. So give it a try, after all what do you have to lose?