Promoting Harmony in Your Workplace
If your relationships with your co-workers aren't what you'd like them to be, try these tips to improve communication.

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Promoting Harmony in Your Workplace

If you're like many people, you spend nearly as much time with co-workers as you do with family and friends outside of work. Maybe even more. That's why it's worth making the effort to get along well with colleagues. Just like members of a music group, your team will function better if it works in harmony.

Understanding and appreciating other people at work starts with effective communication. If you take time to learn a few key skills, you can interact with people in more constructive ways. These skills can help you:

  • Form deeper connections with colleagues
  • Improve teamwork
  • Be more efficient at decision-making and problem-solving
  • Deliver difficult messages in a way that does not damage the relationship
  • In other areas of your life such as friendships and significant relationships

Here are some effective communication skills:

Attentive listening
When a co-worker has an issue, focus closely on the person and the emotions around his or her words. Create an environment where it's safe to express an opinion that might be different from yours. Letting someone vent may help him or her feel better, even if a conflict can't be immediately resolved. Don't interrupt. Listen. Feel where your co-worker is coming from. Focus on the content of the work issue and not emotional ones.

Non-verbal cues
Much of what you say is not in your words, but in how you say them. Gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and posture are just a few non-verbal cues. Open communication is helped by open body language: arms uncrossed, sitting quietly and comfortably, making eye contact.

Managing stress in the moment
If you find yourself in a conflict at work, you can't exactly say, "Excuse me while I go meditate for 30 minutes." Stress-relief tactics should fit the situation. Try a few deep breaths; visualize something calming. Perhaps you need to have the conversation later. Or maybe you can strike a compromise - or agree that you simply have different opinions on the matter. Don't let a stressful reaction make the situation worse. Agree to disagree as long as that doesn't affect your work project.

Remember: Poor interpersonal relationships and lack of support at work are causes of job stress, which can be harmful to your mental and physical health.

Recognizing emotions
Fear of getting laid off, jealousy, feeling overworked or resentment over a previous conflict might color your dealings with another person. Communicate in ways that draw people in. Make them feel recognized and appreciated. Wouldn't you want the same from them? Friendliness begets friendliness.

By Ginny Greene, Editor
Created on 02/05/2008
Updated on 07/09/2014
  • Stress at work. Tips to reduce and manage workplace stress.
  • Effective communication. Improving communication skills in business and relationships.
  • National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Stress … at work.
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