If you are interested in improving your interpersonal relationships at work but have always found it difficult, then you might like my Pluralsight course, Building Healthy Interpersonal Relationships at Work, where I talk about how to build, and maintain effective relationships, how to manage conflict and how to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Having a great day at work is one of the top ways to boost your mood and self-confidence. When things are going right in the workplace, you feel a sense of security that just cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Most of us need this type of workplace stability to become successful and productive. If you have ever felt that you love your job and you don’t mind the work involved, but there is still something out of place, consider the relationships that you have built with your coworkers. Interpersonal connections are essential in your daily life, and this includes your professional side.

Understanding Interpersonal Relationships by Stephen Haunts

When you work in an environment where you feel that you can be heard and understood, you are more likely to succeed. Those with hostile work environments tend to not only be more stressed out on an average daily basis but also find ways to take this stress out on loved ones or other uninvolved people. Getting along with your coworkers and supervisors can make all the difference between a great day and a terrible one.

Consider the way that you communicate with your peers. Is the interaction healthy? Productive? Do you feel that you lack something? This course is meant to help you dissect your interpersonal relationships at work while striving toward more robust connections. 

Understanding Interpersonal Relationships

Your first step to creating better interpersonal relationships at work is to understand what an interpersonal relationship is. An interpersonal relationship is the nature of an interaction that occurs between two or more people. This type of relationship can fulfill your needs in some way, whether it be explicitly stated or implied. Know that you can have this type of connection with many people, not only those in the workplace. The same concept applies to your romantic partner, family, best friend, and even strangers that you briefly encounter. You can create a meaningful connection with just about anyone you choose, even if it isn’t long-lasting; this is why it is essential to focus on maintaining great work relationships; you will notice that you enjoy being at work a lot more.

Having an interpersonal relationship that you can define as “strong” involves being able to fulfill many of one another’s needs. For example, your boss might consider you a top contributor at work because you always show up on time, and you are willing to stay late to finish projects or fix emergencies by staying late if required. In this way, you provide your boss with reliability, a great work ethic, and a genuine and well-rounded personality. Your boss might reward you with praise and even the promise of a promotion in return for your efforts. This is an example of a healthy interpersonal relationship that is currently thriving.

You can also have a relationship like this with those you work with. Having healthy interpersonal relationships with your coworkers goes beyond merely getting along and tolerating one another for eight hours a day. To have a strong connection, you must be willing to communicate and work together. Setting differences aside is something that can commonly happen in the workplace. We are all unique individuals, so usually, we will clash from time-to-time. If you can set these differences aside to work toward a common goal, you are doing your part to create a healthy work relationship.

When you begin to shrink into the background of a workplace, it can be easy to slowly give up on your responsibilities because you are feeling discouraged. The more that you can work under these favorable conditions, the more you will be able to work on your self-esteem. As you are already aware, when you have confidence in your abilities, you will be more likely to step outside of your comfort zone. All of this will provide you with emotional and mental stimulation that is great for maintaining your focus and concentration during the day. 

It is normal to wonder why having healthy interpersonal relationships matter when you can work independently while still showcasing all of your positive skills. In most cases, it benefits you to act as a team player. Not only will you be able to complete tasks more efficiently, but you will also learn more methods of problem-solving by being open to other viewpoints. Having strong interpersonal relationships is another way to showcase your communication skills. When you can get a message across clearly and easily, you will probably find more harmony when working with others. While keeping to yourself might be one way to avoid potential issues, it is also an isolating behavior. It would be best if you aimed to be open and communicative, not distant and reserved.

If you find yourself at odds with someone that you work with, this could likely be an indication of a weak interpersonal relationship. Despite most common misconceptions, you don’t need to actively be in disagreement with someone to have a poor relationship. Maybe you don’t know the person well yet, or perhaps you have yet to make an effort to get to know them. One reason that two people might not get along is that they do not understand one another, and this can only change with some effort from both parties.

When you decide that you are ready to strengthen your relationship, determine what stage you are in with the person. The following are among the most common:

  • Acquaintance: The very beginning stage of getting to know someone, being an acquaintance means that you have only met once or twice before. Maybe you know people in common or know this person because you work at the same company; this is the foundation for an interpersonal relationship, giving you room to grow. It can be hard to break the ice during this stage but finding your commonalities can help you with this. Being employed by the same company is one of the easiest things that you can bond over. This person knows the ins and outs of the workplace just as you do, so you should be able to achieve decent levels of conversation based on this fact alone.
  • Build Up: During the buildup stage, you will see the most growth in the relationship; which is usually when the trust begins to form, and individual habits are learned. You can likely start to predict certain mannerisms from one another at this point. Compatibility does make a difference here. Even though this is a professional relationship that you are building, you still need to maintain a base level of harmony to create a successful one. At this point, you might notice if you experience any personality clashes or differences in opinions. Remember that this is normal and perfectly fine. 
  • Continuation: The continuation stage solidifies the relationship. You should already know each other pretty well by this point. When you reach the continuation stage, know that it is optional. You are either going to become closer to that person, or you will drift apart. Because this is a working relationship, you do not need to take it any further if you do not feel like it. As long as you can maintain a successful method of interpersonal communication, then there is no need to do anything else. Naturally, once we start feeling closer to others, we tend to want to interact more. If you are two people with compatible personality types, there is a likelihood that you will become friendly with one another; which can be displayed anywhere from stopping to talk in the hall to even hanging out after work. The relationship is only going to advance as far as you are willing to take it.
  • Deterioration: If you aren’t careful, you might reach the deterioration stage during your interpersonal relationships. Deterioration means as it’s implied—the relationship begins to fall apart. Here, you are likely to see a lack of trust and communication. This can happen for several reasons or no reason at all. If you are not making a constant effort to have a stable interpersonal relationship, then you can probably expect to reach this stage at some point. Know that it is possible to avoid this if you consider your working relationships a priority. Learn how to compromise and take action if necessary.
  • Termination: Termination is the worst-case scenario in any interpersonal relationship. When you cut someone out of your life, this can cause a lot of complex issues; which is especially true when you work with the individual. If you get into an argument that results in a fight, this will likely sever the bond that you have worked to maintain. Consider what is essential and what is trivial if you find yourself at this stage. Is the thing that you dislike about the individual enough to cut them from your life? Make this decision carefully because workplace confrontation can be detrimental to your productivity.

If found this article interesting and want to improve your interpersonal relationships at work but you have always found it difficult, then you might like my Pluralsight course, Building Healthy Interpersonal Relationships at Work, where I talk about how to build, and maintain effective relationships, how to manage conflict and how to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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