SELF HELP RESOURCE - Work / Workplace Relationships


As part of organizations and companies that you work in, you are expected to work in collaboration with colleagues to meet work goals and the expectations that your employers have from you. There is no denial in the fact that pressures have only been increasing on employees which can sometimes come in way of them interacting appropriately with their co-workers. While conflicts cannot be avoided, employees can learn effective skills in communication and conflict resolution because on a daily basis in the process of brainstorming and discussions employees may reach deadlocks. When a series of unpleasant interactions take place it is possible for an employee to be left with feelings of hostility and resentment towards one another and this may result in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, teamwork and team satisfaction and possibly increased turnover as well.

It is essential for employees to be equipped with basic skills for conflict resolution so as to manage difficult situations.

Listening Skills:

  • Listening is the key skill to make the other person feel heard, valued and understood. In most conflict situations the persons involved present their thoughts, feelings, and opinions which go unheard as a result of which there is a surge in the feeling of not being heard and valued.

  • When a person is given the space to express themselves fully, they feel much calmer to be open to the ongoing argument.

  • This helps to show that the team works collaboratively and indicates respect.

Communication Skills:

  • Communication is the way for you to express exactly what you want to communicate with your colleagues. It is important to make your statements crisp, short and clear so as to avoid any misunderstanding in the conversation.

  • Use the right words and slow down your speech in order to help the other person understand what you are saying.

  • Do not interrupt the person while they are talking as this could break the flow of the conversation and could be seen as a lack of your interest to listen and understand the other person.

  • Validate the person’s feelings when beginning your conversation with the person because it would help them to feel better when they are upset.

Non – Verbal Skills:

  • Be aware of the cultural, age, religious and gender differences that may exist and could come in the way of you making meaning of non-verbal signals.

  • Your body language must match what you say because if there is a discrepancy between them, the person may consider you to be dishonest.

  • Eye contact during a conversation indicates confidence and interest. Do not stare at the person while conversing because that could get intimidating and could be perceived as being aggressive.

  • Keep your hand gestures in check because it could be helpful to highlight and make your points.

While employees try to resolve their conflicts by using the skills mentioned above, there are times when it is difficult to completely move past certain unpleasant exchanges which may have happened. This is where the skills to rebuild the relationship becomes essential.  

It is natural for trust to be broken when a conflict arises. You may find it hard to relate to the person as you used to before or may even start to believe that you cannot share the same kind of working relationship with them.

Essentially this does not hold true as you do have the choice to work towards rebuilding these relationships if you would like to. Most people are aware of the negative impacts that holding onto conflicts can have on them and even on their professional journey in the workspace. Rebuilding trust becomes very essential and is the first step towards repairing a relationship that has been impacted.

To be able to achieve this, employees have to be willing to do the following things:

  • Take personal accountability for restoring trust (making efforts or taking smaller initiatives like openly communicating, having regular conversations and planning for the same vs. waiting for the other person to miraculously come to their senses and change their behavior, for which the possibilities can be very bleak). In this case, it is important to recognize that making any efforts or merely trying to is going to be worthwhile, so plan out ways to do this.


  • Look for ways in which you can start to value the relationships you share with your co-worker.


  • Understand the dynamics of the relationship and make changes to what is not working. For instance, focusing on what is under your control and what is not. Your colleague may be a control freak or rude or even highly competitive, however, you would not be able to change the way that he or she is and perhaps you can look at accepting that their view of the situation can also be valid (even though it conflicts with yours) since it stems from their personality which you certainly cannot change. This can help you to see the other person in a new light (i.e. trying to do their best) and to rationalize their actions and behaviors to get a better sense of why they are the way they are and their reasons for doing particular things which initially might have been the reason for conflict.  


  • Forgiveness – this does not mean forgetting what the other person has done or even the circumstances. Instead, it is making the decision to let go of what has happened to be able to make peace with the emotional experiences. You need to do this for yourself and not for others.

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