5 Ways to build better relationships with colleagues

If you are not personally in control of the recruitment for your organisation, then there is a very good chance that you may have to work with people that you don’t like. Unlike our friends and social group, we don’t usually choose our colleagues; they may be forced on us. If this is the case, unlike with friends where we can wind down the relationship by putting distance between us, with our work colleagues we usually have to ‘put up and shut up’. Or do we?

Having to work with people we find challenging, dislikeable or difficult can cause us unhappiness, anxiety and even stress. However ,there are some practical steps we can take to help build and improve a difficult relationship. Take control because it’s not entirely up to the other person to improve things, it’s up to you also. Be proactive and remember that behaviour breeds behaviour. You may be surprised at the result when you instigate an adult, mature response to a potentially damaging working relationship.Build better relationships

To improve the relationship, it’s important to remember and accept that you don’t have to become bosom buddies or even friends. Review how you feel about not liking them – sometimes liking your colleagues too much can be more of a problem than not liking them at all! So here are the five golden rules which will help you reinvent your relationship:

1. Change your Mind-Set

Take creative steps to change how you think about the individual. Try to understand why they behave the way that they do. Look under the imaginary ‘water line’ and consider what may be driving their behaviour in terms of their thinking and feeling.

2. Reciprocity

Giving to get is a basic human response and instinct. Utilise this to help improve your interaction. This is not about lacking authenticity or telling lies. It can cover a number of things – things you do or say. It could be doing something very simple like offering to get them a coffee or buy them a sandwich. It could be acknowledging an aspect of their work which you particularly like or a personal quality. Get into the zone of finding things to like rather than things to dislike.

3. Challenge

See the person you don’t like as a challenge rather than a threat. Make turning them around a personal target. Plan your approach – what can you do? Take charge and ownership for resolving the inter-personal issue between you.

4. Behaviour by Intent or Default?

The difference between us as humans and the animal kingdom is our ability to press the ‘Pause’ button. The work colleague is the stimulus but we have it in our power to choose how we respond. It’s very easy to slip into default behaviour simply because of how the individual makes us think, feel and therefore behave. So instead of using habitual behaviour, surprise the colleagues by behaving differently.

5. Build the Relationship

Take responsibility for implementing active steps to improve and build the relationship. It takes time, confidence and willingness to make it happen but you must ensure you do it. All relationships need time spent on them to keep them healthy – invest that time. Take small steps; build trust through how you demonstrate your credibility, reliability and integrity in your dealings with your colleague……and you never know they must just become your friend, ally and greatest advocate!