Building Positive Workplace Relationships
The size of your company will always determine the relationships between co-workers. Naturally a smaller company will feel more like a family, whereas larger companies will have friend circles and groups formed by the corporate landscape. Either way, positive workplace relationships are always key to productivity, happiness and employee retention. So how do you build them?
That guy in the parts department is also an Elvis fan, but you wouldn't know because you've never spoken to him. The girl you see at the photocopier every morning holidays to the same place as you every year, but you only ever talk about the ink running low.
Sometimes making the effort to get to know people beyond a professional level is essential. I don't mean that. I mean asking about their hobbies, weekend, family etc. People love to talk about themselves. That's a fact. Read below to see why ...
Me, Myself and I
According to Adrian Ward, Writer for The Scientific American, the most talked about subject by any person is themselves. He writes 'On average, people spend 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves and this figure jumps to 80 percent when communicating via social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.' Our article, What is Networking, explains the benefits of social media and how to get to know people, even prior to them starting.
With this in mind then, it only makes sense that talking to someone and showing an interest in who they are and what they do will build a good relationship. I know this all too well from my past life as a car salesman. Rule number one to selling a car is to sell yourself first.
If someone came in asking for a big saloon to fit their fishing equipment in, I spent 20 minutes asking where they fish, what equipment they used, their biggest catch etc. I know nothing about fishing either, so I was winging it to some extent. But because I made this effort to show an enthusiasm in his hobby, I wasn't a salesman anymore, I was a friend.
Most of his wardrobe was black, he loved heavy metal and drank copious amounts of whiskey. Before this night out, he was just Gary with the spotty tie to me.
The same rule applies for the people you work with (except you're not trying to sell them anything). If you make the effort to find out what their interests are, they will find you more approachable and vice versa.
Being a social chameleon has its benefits. Aside from being interesting, having different friends with different hobbies really increases the scope of subjects you can talk about with confidence and knowledge. This then means you are able to sustain conversations on multiple levels with people from all backgrounds - probably the most important soft skill to have.
Outside of Work
Within the confines of the corporate cage, where everyone dresses and acts the same, you'll be surprised how different people may be come home time.
I remember this older chap I worked with a few years ago, he was very respectable and reserved at work but, when the staff party came along, he turned up looking like one of the Hells Angels (for the record, the Hells Angels don't use a possessive apostrophe. Would you like to tell them that though?!).
It turned out old man Gary used to be a punk rocker back in the day and spent his weekends riding the coasts on his Harley. Most of his wardrobe was black, he loved heavy metal and drank copious amounts of whiskey. Before this night out, he was just Gary with the spotty tie to me.
Even if you work with the most negative person in the world, who is on a constant mission to bring you down, just smile through it and be nice to them. Kill them with kindness.
So, aside from the age old 'judging books by covers' cliche, I guess what I'm getting at here is that people have lives outside of work too. So making the effort to organise regular staff nights out, or even just an occasional drink after work, will develop your team and make you gel together on a personal level. Just like me and Gary except I don't have a Harley.
We rise by lifting others
Lastly, possibly most importantly, help people. Even small gestures can go a long way in shaping people's opinion of you. This will spread too, as they will no doubt mention your good deed to others. Likewise, if you're not very helpful, your reputation will also catch wind (probably even more so). So being courteous will reap long term, positive benefits in your workplace.
Never focus on negative points that people may have. Always highlight what they are strong at and make them feel good about it. That feeling you get from being complimented is a nice one, so make sure you are giving plenty out when necessary.
Even if you work with the most negative person in the world, who is on a constant mission to bring you down, just smile through it and be nice to them. Kill them with kindness. Your grace and positivity will not go unnoticed.
Go forth and shine
By conducting yourself with these actions on a daily basis, you will automatically start to build a more positive, company culture - no matter how big or small the organisation. It is a domino effect, the more people you are kind to, the more they will be kind to. It is infectious.
To paraphrase the great Marianne Williamson quote, 'It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same'.
Written by Jon Clarke
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