- Talent Management
I recently wrote about Strengthening Relationships in the Workplace with Better Communication because it seems that a huge percentage of workplace relationship problems stem from poor communication or an overall lack of communication. But there a lots of other ways to strengthen workplace relationships in ways that will prime your organization for greater success. Here some to consider:
Accentuate the Positive
You’ve no doubt experienced what I call the “wet blanket” effect – when someone comes into a meeting with a negative energy and attitude that can quite literally stifle whatever flame of positive energy or creativity might have otherwise been present. But that can be countered by ratcheting up the positive energy, which is every bit as contagious as negative energy. Being positive includes not only your attitude and energy, but also everything you say and do. Keep your words positive, as well as your body language. As simple as it sounds, making sure you smile a lot can do wonders in this regard. Smiling is every bit as infectious as laughing, which everyone knows is the best medicine. Setting a positive tone and atmosphere is one of the best ways to strengthen workplace relationships.
Be Encouraging and Supportive
When someone shares a bit of news that is positive and meaningful to them, how you respond to it makes a world of difference in terms of strengthening your relationship to that person. Of course a negative response is the worst, but no response at all is just as bad. When someone share important positive news, your reaction needs to be both encouraging and supportive. This is referred to as an active constructive response. You might ask a question that probes for further details and encourages them to share more, or just make sure your facial expression and body language convey your sincere interest in what they have to say.
Another incredibly effective way to strengthen workplace relationships is to learn how to be an active listener. This involves giving your entire focus to the person who is speaking as opposed to just thinking of what you are going to say next. You intentionally put aside any potential distractions that might get in the way, make lots of eye contact, indicate understanding by nodding and occasionally repeating back a summary of what you’ve heard to make sure you’ve gotten it right. At the end of a conversation with an active listener, the other feels heard, recognized, and understood. And that’s something that everyone wants to feel.
You can’t really give the support your people need to become peak performers if you don’t have any clue what they’re going through or what they need. It is through exercising empathy that come to understand the needs of your employees and that you can then go on to meet. But you need to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy, as they are often confused. Sympathy means you feel badly about what someone else is going through while empathy means you actually understand what that person is feeling or going through. The understanding that’s involved in empathy comes from either having gone through the same yourself, or being able to really put yourself into another’s proverbial shoes.
Be Open and Interactive
Everyone knows that one of the essential features of quality brainstorming is to get all ideas out there without pre-judging any of them as unworthy or bad. That kind of openness is what you need to cultivate in order to strengthen workplace relationships. You can’t understand what someone is going through or what they need if you’re too busy judging them. Take a nonjudgmental approach and you’ll have a much easier time connecting with people on a deeper level. You also need to put yourself out there to find out what people are going through. This is where “management by walking around” can play a useful role. Get out there in the trenches with everyone else, interacting with others and finding out what’s really going on.
If more people took the time to adopt these strategies and behaviors, workplaces across the nation would experience a sharp rise in productivity, retention, and employee engagement.