You have all sorts of relationships in your life: close friends, acquaintances, relatives, teachers, and more. You generally have the freedom to choose who you want to hang out with, and when. At a job, however, you often have no choice who you’re spending time with.
On any given day at your job, you may deal with a few people, or you may deal with many: colleagues, managers, bosses, interns, customers, and delivery people. You don’t need to like these people, but you do need to work with them. More than that, you need to work well together. This involves more than you just doing your job while they do theirs and expecting that everything else will take care of itself. Often, working well with others depends upon your ability to manage relationships.
Relationships need to develop in order to thrive. If you ignore other people’s needs and show no concern for their problems, your relationships with them will likely suffer. In well-managed relationships, people feel motivated. They have a sense of camaraderie. This makes it easier to work toward a common goal.
Here are some easy steps, from Fast Company magazine, that you can take to build relationships at work. You don’t have to be best friends with your coworkers, but your shift will go by a lot faster if everyone gets along.
Have a good attitude: Sure, everyone complains about work sometimes, but try being positive. Instead of getting involved in work drama, focus on your own responsibilities.
Offer to help: You certainly should not do someone else’s job, but everyone needs a hand once in a while. If your coworker is rushing to finish stuffing envelopes before the mailman comes by, and you are all done with your own work, offer to pitch in.
Say hello: Greet people when you see them. Remember their names, and ask about their lives. If they got a new pet, ask to see a picture. If they were under the weather last week, ask how they are feeling now. By recalling small pieces of information about people, you are showing you are thoughtful, a great quality in a coworker.
Of course, sometimes you’ll have to deal with people who have difficult attitudes or personalities. If you’re starting a new job, an employee who has been around for a long time might feel threatened by you. He might want to call all the shots or blame you whenever something goes wrong. Or a colleague might unfairly blame you because she was friends with the person who had the job before and was fired. For this reason, she might resent you or think you’re doing everything wrong.
You may try to be polite to such coworkers and to talk to them about any problems they might have. Unfortunately, if these people are really difficult, your attempts might not be successful. Such situations can leave you feeling stressed, confused, and unmotivated to go to work. You may spend a lot of time hoping they will change, get transferred, or even fired so that you can actually look forward to work. However, wishing for change is a waste of time. No matter how much you might wish it, some people may never see your point of view. In the end, the only person you can ever change is yourself.
In Control vs. In Charge
Unfortunately, in life, there will be many situations over which you’ll have no control. But instead of being miserable, try to accept that there are times when you really can’t be in control of a situation. However, although you can’t be in control, you can be in charge.
When you try to be in control, it means you are trying to get others to accept the way you think things should be. When that doesn’t happen, you may feel frustrated or angry because others are keeping you from reaching your goal. In comparison, being in charge means that you accept a situation for what it is—not the way you wish it would be. Once you do this, you can work with and around any difficulties in your path to meet your goals as best you can.
When you have figured out what’s really happening and why, you can try to manage the situation by making changes to the relationship. You can do this by attempting to get rid of or reducing negative aspects while concentrating on the good. Jason’s coworker Travis was extremely bossy. It really bothered Jason, so much so that he couldn’t see how good Travis was with customers. Jason shifted his focus to how Travis handled difficult or cranky visitors to the store in an easy and friendly manner. He tried to pay attention to and learn from Travis. By focusing on Travis’s good qualities instead of his bossiness, Jason was able to develop a better and more productive relationship with Travis. Learning to build relationships at work can make you a happy and productive coworker.