how to get along with coworkersPlaying nice with others doesn’t always come easy — especially when you’re spending 8+ hours a day with the “others.” It’s no wonder the people we work with (and for) tend to get under our skin! But not only is it good for your mental health to keep the peace at work, it’s also good for your career.

So how do we do it? Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst Beverly Flaxington, a career and business adviser who specializes in helping managers and employees deal with difficult workplace relationships, says it comes down to mastering a few basic principles of communication.

Take a look at 10 of her behavior modification techniques designed to improve workplace relationships, and gauge how well you’re doing in your interpersonal interactions.

1. Confront thoughtfully. Have you ever confronted someone about a disruptive behavior or a performance issue, only to have it blow up in your face? Flaxington says that many people never learn how to give feedback well – positively or negatively. Don’t rush to confront; learn best practices in giving feedback first.

2. Don’t assume. We all know what happens when we assume… and in the workplace, assumptions can also lead to lost sales and failed negotiations. Don’t try to guess what the other person thinks or wants, advises Flaxington. Instead, approach every interaction with open eyes and an inquisitive mind.

3. Pay attention to culture. Each workplace has its own code of conduct, written or unwritten. Determine what is acceptable and unacceptable in your environment, paying close attention to the cues about the values of those around you.

4. Stop fixing others. This advice comes straight from the mouth of Jesus himself — stop looking at the speck in your brother’s (or coworker’s) eye long enough to get the plank out of your own eye. In other words, deal with your own issues before you attempt to tackle everyone else’s flaws.

5. Get away from difficult people. You can’t always choose whom you work with, but you may have a say in how much you interact with them. Keep your distance from the haters – you don’t have to constantly engage with them and get stressed out by them, says Flaxington.

6. Let others finish completely. You’d be amazed how much this simple technique can improve all your workplace interactions. Just let other people finish their thought – no interrupting, adding commentary, or giving feedback until they are completely through talking or asking.

7. Give up labeling. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we look at reality, filter it, label it, and then convince ourselves that our labels are Truth. Flaxington encourages us to open our minds and stop making the world only about us.

8. Identify your triggers. If there’s someone at work who consistently sets you off, reflect on your role in perpetuating the pattern, says Flaxington. Does your coworker dump his work in your lap, and you continually play the role of martyr/rescuer? You can’t change his actions, but you can change your response.

9. Don’t data dump. Make sure you’re not the one unloading your problems, ideas, or experiences on a coworker without really looking for interaction, advises Flaxington. Seek engagement, not just a listening ear.

10. Commit to change. Take a close look at your communication patterns to identify the ones that cause the most problems in your workplace relationships. Once you’re aware of the problems, make a conscious effort to work on and correct them.

If you want to get ahead in your career, you need to understand human behavior and act accordingly. Using these simple techniques, you can be well on your way to enjoying peace and success at work.

2 responses to “How to Improve Your Workplace Relationships… and Get Ahead in Your Career”

  1. Sani says:

    #2 Is a big one. Assumptions create SO many problems, including resentment, guilt, regret, etc. Ask questions and be forthright!

  2. Amen to that, Sani. It’s interesting how even the basic of fundamentals at work can really stop you up. SO not necessary if you’re mindful of a few key components. Thanks! 🙂

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