Say what you want about the importance of choosing the right office furniture for your company. Even the best chairs and desks can’t curb the effects of bad relationships.
Employees can tolerate Spartan office accommodations, but bad blood and conflict between colleagues are stressors that can push people away from their work. And it’s not just bad relationships. Gossip perpetuates the pain, distance or frustration an employee may be experiencing.
Here’s the good news: Bad relationships don’t have to remain that way. We’ve compiled a list of four tips to help you improve your workplace relationships. These tried-and-true bits of wisdom are a solid foundation for boosting morale. We are, after all, relational beings, right?
A little courtesy goes a long way
For most of us, office relationships are mostly limited to a quick “hello.” Even if we ask “How’s it going?” we don’t’ really expect a genuine response. We expect a reply like “Good, you?”
We’re not saying you need to become the nonstop chit-chatter of the office; nobody likes the person who can’t keep quiet. But we are suggesting, as Tech Republic writer Scott Matteson said in a 2013 article, that you should make an effort to connect with your coworkers.
“Make eye contact and refer to people by name,” Matteson wrote. “This is the oil that keeps the engine of cooperation running smoothly.”
As you know, courtesy is more than just polite conversation and eye contact. One place where a courteous gesture is often lacking is the coffee pot. Either the pot is empty or half-full of stale coffee. And if it’s not one of those two, the pot itself is coated in residue from dozens of brew cycles.
A simple refill or pot cleaning benefits your coffee cravings, but it’s also a nice gesture for your colleagues.
Share the glory
We all hope our bosses see our hard work and reward it; nothing wrong with that. But when we start taking credit for team efforts, our relationships can sour quicker than you can imagine.
Doing so gets at the heart of what most of us want from others: appreciation. We’ve all been in those positions where we work extra hours, solve problems under our own initiative and produce work that’s above and beyond what was expected of us.
In this situation, the last thing you want is a supervisor or team leader taking all the credit. When that happens, your work is cheapened and disrespected.
So, when you have a chance to elevate the work of your colleagues rather than cheapen it, take advantage of the opportunity.
As Kelly Services wrote in a recent article about coworker interactions, “it’s fair to share credit with others who’ve worked on a project with you or who assist you in other ways. Plus, when people feel respected, it helps create better working relationships in the future.”
Focus on clear communication
Have you ever been in one of those meetings where the person leading seems totally unprepared, and what was supposed to be an on-point, 10-minute briefing turns into a 30-minute whirlwind of rabbit trails and wandering thoughts?
Like most people, you probably hated the fact you were wasting time in a meeting rather than working on projects at your desk. Here’s the question: How would you make the meeting go faster?
Our guess is that you’d be more prepared and definitely more focused. And you’re right.
Kelly Services highlights this when they talked about communication in a recent post.
“If you’re going to a meeting or have to give a presentation,” they said. “Note your points and arguments ahead of time and review them shortly before the event.”
Also, think about who you’re talking to when you lead a meeting or have a one-on-one. Personality types (introvert/extrovert) as well as if they’re creative or analytical should influence how you craft what you’re going to say.
Knowing when not to talk shop
As employers look for new ways to build a better team mentality and morale, encouraging employees to mingle outside of work has become more popular.
Company-sponsored events at a pre-determined location or a spontaneous happy hour get-together are two ways employees can build stronger relationships.
The catch here is that it’s pretty tough not to talk about work when you’re hanging out with people from work. But if relationships need to get stronger, complaining about new policies or bad bosses during happy hour isn’t really going to cut it.
Getting around this is as simple as barring work talk from an event. But be savvy here – you don’t want to act like a dictator trying to quash complaints and criticism. You want to create an environment where team members can express their personality in a way that reveals more of who they are outside of work.
Forbes contributor Nicole Liloia put it this way: “Making friends with your co-workers and spending time with them outside of work can also lead to better relationships in the workplace.”