Friendships and fallouts at work

office romance

Making friends at work is vital.

It not only provides you with a support system for when things get tough, but also a group of cheerleaders for when things go your way. The importance of these confidants around us can easily be taken for granted. However, as full-time workers spend more of their waking hours at work than at home, it means that most of their time is spent with their colleagues instead of their family and friends.

These relationships, however, can also easily become damaged, and even the happiest of workplaces can become tense every now and then. One of the reasons this happens is that sometimes the main thing you may have in common with your colleagues is the job itself – you may have different backgrounds, cultures, values, perspectives and temperaments, not to mention different styles of working. And any of these things can – and do – lead to conflict.

So, is it any wonder that, for most of us, work relationships are important? But what happens if these sour? Or a conflict ignites in the office? Ahead of World Friendship Day, the wellbeing experts at CABA have shared their advice on how to maintain positive relationships at work.

Have a positive mental attitude

If you want the people around you at work to be positive, aim to have a positive attitude yourself, as your mood can be contagious. Instead of being pessimistic and constantly complaining about the things you’re not happy about, try to stay upbeat as much as possible, and you may be surprised at how quickly others will follow your example.

Leave home issues at the door

Being more positive also means leaving your personal problems at the front door every morning. Whatever may be troubling you in your personal or home life – an argument with a partner or family member or problems with your finances for example – try to recognise that work is not the place to talk about it. Obviously discussing your homelife away from your desk with a close colleague shouldn’t be frowned upon but airing your issues in a public space where your co-workers may feel uncomfortable can have a negative effect on your relationships with them.

Avoid office gossip

Just about every office does it, but even the most entertaining gossip can be harmful to work relationships. Instead, try to only speak positively about the people you work with. Nothing stays a secret in a work environment for long, so if you only have good things to say about a co-worker you’ll strengthen your bond with them when they eventually get to hear about it. Meanwhile if someone you’re talking to starts talking negatively about a colleague, try to change the subject tactfully or make an excuse to leave the conversation.

Boost your emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent means being able to interpret how someone else is feeling, helping you to act accordingly and understand and communicate with them better – all of which can lead to a better relationship. Start by trying to empathise with your colleagues and seeing things from their point of view, especially when you’re planning to do something that would affect them.

Overcoming conflict

If a conflict does occur, the most important thing for you to do is to try and get to the bottom of the matter. Conflict is never far away in any work setting, but if it happens to you, try to build greater understanding between you and the colleague in question. Don’t let things fester or turn into a more serious situation. Have a sincere heart-to-heart conversation with your colleague about what’s happening between you, including what’s bothering you both.

Try to be sincere, courteous and a good listener – let them have their say, and they’ll be more likely to let you voice your opinion fully too. Neither of you may like what you’re hearing at first, but by getting things out in the open, you’ll be laying the groundwork for a solution – and a stronger relationship in the future. Don’t forget to take responsibility for your role in the situation and apologise if necessary.

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