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Tips for Harmony at Work

Try these tips to improve relationships at work.

group of three talking around table

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
  • Thrive in other areas of your life, such as friendships and significant relationships

Here are some skills you can practice:

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.

Non-verbal cues

Words aren’t the only way people communicate. Gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and posture are just a few non-verbal cues. Pay attention to your body language. For example, crossed arms might tell someone you’re closed off. Keep yourself as relaxed and open as possible, sitting quietly and comfortably and making eye contact. Also pay attention to the body language of your co-worker, which may provide more insight.

Stress relief in the moment

You might hear people say to take time to cool off when you feel stress. But if you’re having a conflict at work, you can’t usually say, “Excuse me while I go meditate for 30 minutes.” Stress-relief tactics should fit the situation. Try taking a few deep breaths; visualize something calming. If you’re still wound up, it’s probably best to take some time and have the chat later. The key is not to let a stressful reaction make the situation worse.

Recognizing emotions

Fear of getting laid off, jealousy, feeling overworked or harboring 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, Contributing Editor

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Stress … at work. Accessed: July 6, 2017. Effective communication. Improving communication skills in business and relationships. Accessed: July 6, 2017. Stress at work. Tips to reduce and manage workplace stress. Accessed: July 6, 2017.

Last Updated: July 7, 2017