Sometimes, the workplace can look more like a minefield than a cohesive work environment. In this type of setting, employees tend to spend most of their time tiptoeing around potentially explosive people and situations. It’s a bad atmosphere that produces stagnation, fear, distrust, and a host of other negative emotions and effects that can suck the life out of your organization. Fortunately, there are several ways to navigate workplace relationships and improve interoffice dynamics.
Implementing the following 7 tips can help to create a unified work force in which everyone feels appreciated and employees are motivated to do their best work.
1) Realize that people make mistakes. It may appear that some of your coworkers are trying to undermine your efforts and make you look bad. However, Hanlon’s Razor (similar to Murphy’s Law) states, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Not calling your coworkers stupid, but you get the point. The problem may be related to ignorance, a failure to communicate, or even a failure to concentrate. So give your co-workers room to make mistakes every now and then.
2) Embrace conflict as inevitable and healthy. Most people don’t like conflict, but it’s a part of life. In any environment with more than one person, there will be disagreements, because people have different opinions and ideas. However, you have to deal with these differences respectfully, and also understand that all of these different viewpoints can actually make the company better.
3) Examine yourself. Most people can see the fault in others, but not in themselves. Your coworkers may be irritating because they wear strong cologne or perfume, talk too loud on the phone, and eat exotic meals at their desk that leave lingering and offensive odors. But what about your habit of whistling all day long? Believe or not, whistling can be irritating. And just because the grocery store had frozen meals on sale doesn’t justify buying 20 of them and hogging all of the room in the office freezer. Reflect on some of your habits and actions to see if you’re doing anything that could cause a coworker to want to gently massage your neck with both hands until you pass out (smile).
4) Respect personality differences. You may be the type of person who stops by everyone’s desk to ask how they’re doing, how the family is doing, remark on a new haircut, etc. But everyone is not like that. Some people have a more introverted personality, while others just don’t want to share personal information with coworkers. If someone provides a one-word response, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re rude or unfriendly. Perhaps they’re just not talkative. And if that’s the case, you may need to adjust your conversations with them accordingly.
5) Realize that some people have problems that have nothing to do with you. Some of your coworkers may truly be mean, ugly, and obnoxious, but it may not be the result of anything you’ve done. They may be going through a divorce or have a parent at the end stage of life. Or, they may be losing their home, or their child may be on drugs. Some people don’t know how to function at work when they have a life crisis. On the other hand, some people are products of bad environments and they just don’t know how to treat other people. Regardless of the reason, the worst thing you can do is respond to their ugliness with more ugliness. This doesn’t mean that you should endure verbal abuse, but don’t let anyone drag you down to their level. Resolve to maintain your peace and happiness regardless of how others act
6) Avoid gossip. Repeating rumors and hearsay may be the highlight of your working day. Yes, it’s fun to hear or recap the juicy details of some scandalous aspect of a co-worker’s life. But, doing so will lead you to be branded as the office gossip and lead others to disrespect you. And if your boss considers these actions to be disruptive and demoralizing to the team, it could result in you being fired. No one gets “officially” fired for gossiping, but it may cause management to look for ways to legally terminate you.
7) See the big picture. Yes, those people on the sales team really get on your nerves. (There appears to be no logic involved in their thoughts or actions!) But, if they don’t reach their sales quota, it affects the company’s bottom line. If the tech team doesn’t get updated information, irate customers may get mad and leave the company. And as a result, no one gets a raise next year. In fact, you may end up getting a pink slip.
Even though your company has various departments and divisions, everyone is on the same team. It’s in your best interest to want everyone else to succeed so you can succeed. You don’t have to invite these people to your house or friend them on Facebook, but you need to work harmoniously with them so the company can succeed – for your benefit.
The Golden Rule succinctly summarizes the best way to navigate workplace relationships: treat others the way you want them to treat you.