Want to feel like you “belong” and are valued at work? Take 3 simple steps to improve your relationships at work.

In a recent blog (What can employees do for themselves to improve their job satisfaction and engagement?) I summarized 3 conditions that employees feel matter for job engagement.  They are:

  1. Relationship with co-workers
  2. Opportunities to use skills/abilities
  3. Relationship with immediate supervisor

Of these results, 2 of them point to relationships are work as mattering.  So in this blog, let’s look at our relationships with our work “family”.  Why does it matter so much for our engagement?  Well, for all 168 hours in a week, we hang out with our work “family” for  about 25% of that time – that’s a lot of our time!  So, it’s easy to see why nurturing these relationships is really a smart investment of our time and energy.

What can you do to improve work relationships? Here are 3 simple steps to improve your relationships at work …

1.  Be sure you are working with people who share your interests and values.

Having a sense of relatedness or connection with those we work with or serve can elevate how motivated we feel to take care of (give good service to) those we interact with on a regular basis.  When we are serving people we care about, we are going to feel happier about what we do for them than if we were doing the same tasks for people that we did not feel a connection or sense of relatedness with.  When you have to perform a task you don’t particularly like for a person you don’t particularly like, or relate well to, isn’t that task a bit more painful than when you are doing that same task for someone you care about?

Feeling a connection with who we (choose to or have to), serve matters a lot for our happiness and even for our ability to feel like we are contributing with a greater sense of purpose.

Do you feel like you are working in a place where you don’t “belong”?  Where your contributions don’t matter as much as you would like them to be appreciated?  What is your relationship like with those you interact with the most – is it less than “warm and fuzzy”?

The bottom line is that working closely with people we share common interests and values with matters for our happiness and sustained engagement (as well as having the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the work).  The Strong Interest Inventory is a tool that can help identify how your interests match up against others in similar or different occupations.  That information can help you understand the likelihood that you will be satisfied interacting with individuals who are happily employed in a variety of occupations.

2.  Seek to understand where others are coming from and assume best intentions.


One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received in my career (and one of the easiest to put into practice) was from a work colleague who later became a close friend of mine.  She always used to say at the start of any crisis – “let’s assume best intentions”.  It simply means don’t automatically assume that others are doing things to purposely be deceptive, harmful or create chaos for others – people rarely do that anyway – even if at first the evidence seems glaringly stacked against them.  Simply seek to understand where another is coming from – it’s easily done by saying…

“I noticed X, it seems like Y – but I don’t want to assume that, so would you be willing to help me understand what you want to accomplish.”  

In my vast 20 years of experience handling complex employee and management relation issues, the most valuable formula for success for repairing relationships I have learned is that when conflict exists between people at work, people want 4 things…

  1. to be heard (to share their side of the situation without interruption or argument)
  2. to be understood (which doesn’t mean agreement – we now refer to this as “empathy”)
  3. to be validated (by far the most important part of the equation.  No one wants to be made to feel that they are “nuts” for thinking or reasoning as they do)
  4. to know what to expect in the future (to come to a mutual agreement about how we will treat each other if a similar situation comes up in the future)

This is the fastest path to improving or securing relationships – especially at work.

3.  Understand how your behavior affects others around you.

If you have on-going issues with people you work with or for, then realize there isn’t much you can do to influence others changing their behavior – especially if they already don’t hold you in the highest esteem – but you can change your behavior and how you react to other’s behavior.  Focus on what you will do to foster better professionalism going forward.  Wayne Dyer says it best…

“How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.”

Tell people you could have a better working relationship with that you want a productive relationship and you want to understand what you can do to make it as easy as possible for collaboration.

indigoforce offers Strong Interest Inventory assessments and performance management coaching.  Call today for your free consultation!  888/560-8233


About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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