Do you look forward to coming to work because you enjoy the company and support of your colleagues? Or do you dread it because you do not get along with the others, or feel that you cannot trust them and see them as competitors.
We have different types of relationships at work. Some help us to get things done for eg. we need to network in order to get the information or resources that we need to carry out a task or we have to work collaboratively on a project. Other relationships help us to feel good - we may share our stresses or successes, encourage, support and motivate one another, eat meals together and so on. Both types of relationships are important and need to be nurtured.
In many ways workplace relationships are similar to any other relationships, and so many of the same principles would apply.
Give And Take
All good relationships involve a certain amount of reciprocity and workplace relationships are no different. If one person seems to be at the receiving end all the time, the other would eventually become resentful. While it is good to ask for help when we require it, we should also take the time to find out what others need and try to provide assistance whenever we can.
Besides pouring out our problems or sharing our own successes, we also need to take time to ask our colleagues about their lives, and really listen attentively.
Accurate communication is essential to a good relationship. We should take time to clarify what we mean. In the event of a misunderstanding or conflict, we should talk directly to the person concerned rather than discuss with others. There is sometimes a tendency to avoid a person with whom we have had a difference of opinion, but this is counterproductive. A direct discussion will clear the air and pave the way to restore the relationship.
Share Common Interests
We spend much of our waking time at work so it makes sense to check out if there are others who share a common interest - whether it is playing a sport, trekking, volunteer work, music, going for movies / plays or anything else. You will have company as you pursue this activity which will help in your all-round development and it will also help you bond with others. This is particularly important if you have moved into a new city to work or if your friends have moved away or work at different timings.
It is also wise to observe certain boundaries in these relationships to avoid negative consequences:
While it is not necessary to be aloof and formal, we must remember that we are primarily colleagues and therefore avoid saying or doing anything that would compromise this working relationship. While it is acceptable and even valuable to socialise with colleagues outside of the workplace, it is important not to do something that would result in feeling embarrassed to face them the next day.
Avoid Gossip And Back-Biting
Gossip is widespread yet extremely destructive. It is possible to actively take steps to avoid being sucked into this negative pattern. If we find ourselves in a group which is tearing someone to pieces, we could attempt to steer the conversation in a more positive direction. If this doesn't work it is better to tactfully leave the room - eventually others will get the message.
Be Careful Who You Trust
You may have built a close relationship with some people and feel safe in confiding in them. But do not assume that everyone is equally trustworthy. If something that you have said is repeated or quoted out of context this could cause a lot of problems. If there is something that you would not like to be repeated, then avoid sharing this information.
Good workplace relationships will make you look forward to coming to work, and you will find yourself saying ‘Thank goodness it's Monday'!