Is there someone in your office with whom you find it challenging to deal? Is your life at work being harmed by a difficult relationship? That difficulty could be with a colleague, a business partner, a manager, director, customer or supplier. You may be spending time at night worrying about it; thinking about it constantly and/or discussing it with colleagues, husband or wife.
It is often said that we cannot choose our family and therefore need to learn how to manage our relationships with them – and the same applies to those at work. If a particular individual is not to our personal liking – for any reason – then because we do not have the luxury of walking away, we need to find a basis upon which to communicate. We all have a job to do and we need to be able to communicate well with everyone in our team. That still applies even if you are a sole practitioner, as you will need to communicate politely with clients/ customers, who you may not like, for otherwise you will have no business!
So let’s look at some strategies that will hopefully take you from actively disliking someone, to accepting them for who and what they are.
Value the differences: Being human, we all naturally relate better and more quickly to those we perceive as being like us. The solution is to correctly identify the differences and to value the dissimilarities and variances between personalities and cultures. (Think about it: if oranges, apples and mangoes were all the same shape, colour and taste – meals would be very boring!)
The 24-hour wait: If someone has said or done something that you don’t like, then endeavour not to react immediately. Try ‘sleeping on it’ and your perspective may well be different in the morning, plus the way that you decide to deal with the situation may be more professional and better considered.
Talk it out: If you really have a continuing problem with someone, you can just ‘bury your head in the sand’ and become more angry and frustrated or, alternatively, you can take the initiative and arrange a convenient time and place to talk. I appreciate that in the short term you may not wish to do this but in the long term, it could have measurable benefits to your relationship and subsequent interaction. (This applies whether the individual is above you or below you in the corporative hierarchical structure).
Therefore [a] Choose a time and place [b] acknowledge there are problems between you [c] outline the conduct that you find a problem, and give examples [d] explain how this affects you and [e] find out what you can both do to improve the relationship.
This should be a two-way communication without appropriating blame on either side, plus an opportunity to negotiate issues and find a common way forward that is acceptable to you both.
Be positive and interested: If you don’t like someone, it is tempting to share these feeling with your fellow colleagues but this is just the time for tact and diplomacy. Gossiping can destroy morale and productivity and however unpopular the other person may be; it can also impact and damage your own reputation. If you need to offload your feelings, then find a trusted friend or even a family member who will listen and allow you to vent your feelings, safely.
Look from the other person’s perspective: This will mean putting your own views and judgments to one side and looking at the problem as if you were the other individual. With this technique of being empathic, it can be surprising how different a relationship can look from the other side!
Of course, such a relationship will only improve if you both really want it and are prepared to work at it and maybe make concessions. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and it may take more than one meeting to improve the connection and to establish a rapport but if you both are willing to take this tangible and positive, first step, then you may well find that the rest will follow far more easily than you first thought possible.
You need to communicate well at work
Good personal interaction is not optional
If there is a relationship problem, deal with it!
Written by Carole Spiers and reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News.
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