Developing Your Soft Skills
Fewer things impact your overall satisfaction with your job than the quality of the coworker relationships you have with your peers and leadership. Research into workplace satisfaction reported by MIT’s Sloan Management Review indicates that having positive coworker relationships can increase your creativity, make you more resilient emotionally, and enjoy your work more. All of these help you feel more connected to your career, your workplace and enjoy your job.
In contrast, feeling disconnected (or worse, in conflict) with your coworkers leads to disengagement from your work, reduced sense of satisfaction with or loyalty to your organization, lower productivity, more stress, and even a toxic workplace environment.
Having positive coworker relationships is vitally important. Playing well with others matters. Here are some tips to developing soft skills that I share with my career coaching clients on how to strengthen coworker relationships– no matter where your work takes place!
Prioritize Positive Interactions
It’s true, technology has interfered with building these important relationships at work. Messaging, email, and virtual meetings often replace chatting together in the breakroom or casual conversations in the hallway. This can create an absence of friendly small talk that leads to closer connections. Particularly if you work at home, you may feel that your interactions with your coworkers are limited to “all business, all the time.”
But even those working in a traditional workplace setting find building effective relationships to be difficult to create and navigate. Particularly when your day is packed with meetings and deliverables, it can be hard to find the time to connect with a coworker on a human-to-human level.
Thankfully, the simplest, most effective relationship-building tools take almost no time at all. Smiling (emojis count), friendly greetings, expressions of empathy, words of appreciation, and questions that convey your interest in the other person as a human being will go a long way in building trust and rapport with your coworkers.
Not everyone views a work project the same as you do. It’s OK to disagree. Be sure you use a respectful tone and if you are angry, slow down. Consider the best time and approach for voicing your opinion.
Have you ever worked with someone who pretty much killed every idea you’ve ever presented? If so, you know how tough working on their team can be and how little engagement you’ll want with this coworker. Bring good questions and bring solutions to the table for your concerns.
Acknowledge Your Coworkers
A simple “good morning” or “how was your weekend?” is often all it takes. Planning a breaktime walk or coffee together can be a great way to get to know the people you work with everyday.
Hear your coworkers out, don’t interrupt in meetings, ask for clarification of ideas and let your coworkers know you’re listening. Learning to effectively listen will open conversation up organically.
Keep Your Commitments
Your work affects everyone on the team. If you commit to a timeline for completing a project, make it happen. Coworkers quickly learn who can be trusted to get their work finished on time.
Share Credit Where Credit is Due
Nothing kills trust like stealing coworkers’ ideas and presenting them as your own. It will be tough to rebuild trust, and your teammates may begin to withhold important ideas and information from you as a result. If it’s your idea, shine. If it’s not, let someone else shine.
What skill will you practice this week? Share with us in the comments section below!
Wishing you success,
Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT
Linda Pounds, M.A, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage/Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Emotional Intelligence Leadership Coach at Growing Self. She works with individuals and couples who face the challenge of merging their work lives with personal lives and the impact each has on the other. Her work with leaders and leadership teams includes Emotional Intelligence (EI) Coaching and assessments, leading to a positive impact on individuals and organizations.
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