These surprising things affect our relationships at work

Relationships with colleagues at work can be stressful at times

In turn, your attitude and feelings towards your employer and role can be directly affected by these relationships, so it is important to understand that they can involve a mixture of both positive and negative aspects and that the bad ones are not unfixable.

If you have difficult relationships with any of your co-workers, it can make certain situations, such as meetings or lunch times, awkward and strained. Most employees consider these relationships to be static, writing them off and only seeing work relationships as either good or bad, with nothing in between. However, even the most tainted of co-worker relationships can be saved. Conversely, those which seem the strongest can quickly weaken.

Work relationships are affected by small actions, known as micromoves. These are the little things that, at the time, may not seem like a big deal to one person, but may give a negative impression to another, thus opening a chink in the proverbial armour of the relationship. Some people are, of course, more sensitive than others.

Micromoves have the potential to make or break colleague relationships. Missing a conference call, failing to invite one member of the team to lunch, or a disrespectful throwaway remark – these are examples of micromoves that may well initiate the breakdown of a relationship.

Yet micromoves can be the olive branch that a strained relationship needs, for example, offering condolences or sympathy to a colleague for a loss or difficulty in their private life. Even something as small as thanking your workmate when they open a door for you, or offering to make a quick cup of tea for them can boost your relationship. It will give your colleague a stepping stone from which they can build on your relationship and hopefully they will repay you in kind.

In order to be more aware of your micromoves and the effect they can have on your co-workers, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Micromoves may not be deliberate
2. Empathise with your colleague and their position
3. Take note of your micromoves to understand patterns
4. You need more than one ‘good’ micromove to counteract a ‘bad’ one
5. Try to look objectively at the situation

Remember that you have hundreds of opportunities every day to create more positive relationships with your co-workers, through mindful micromoves.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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