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Tuesday Nov 5, 2013


Cultivating and maintaining relationships in the workplace can be challenging at times. In most cases, there is an explicit hierarchy, or pecking order that seeks to maintain structure and stability.

Second, the composition of individuals within the work environment is comprised of varying perspectives and personalities. For some, the workplace has become a stressful place. The economy has caused many companies to downsize, which means employees who are fortunate enough to keep their jobs are being asked to do more and, in some cases, work in smaller, closer environments. At the same time, employers are working hard to maintain a balance between job productivity and a peaceful, supportive work environment.

Given these challenging times, how do we create harmony in the workplace?

Statistics show that job productivity is correlated with employee satisfaction, an individual’s perception of being part of something bigger, and a sense that each of us is valued and respected.

Here are a few suggestions that may be helpful in reaching these goals.

Focus on the goals and mission of the business. The truth is you were hired with this in mind — to help the business grow and serve the community. Realizing that it takes all of the parts to make the whole and that there is no whole without the sum of its parts places everyone on the same team, working toward the same goals and objectives.

By being invested in this way, your job becomes purposeful.

It makes being there a lot more interesting and worthwhile. Be curious. Ask questions. As humans, our brains are wired to process certain experiences instinctively. This allows us to protect ourselves in situations where there is the threat of harm.

This is the good news. The bad news is that sometimes when we have the time to process, we still rely on instinct rather than taking the time to formally process what we are experiencing. This creates knee jerk responses that sometimes don’t serve us well. By being curious, we learn more and make fewer assumptions.

Take the time to consider the other person’s perspective. This makes for more effective supervisor/supervisee, employer/employee, partner/partner relationships. Know your boundaries and be respectful of the boundaries of others. In business, we spend a lot of time interacting and when we do many times we develop important friendships.

As a result, we move back and forth between friendship and colleague. It is important to be mindful of this. The best rule of thumb is to be respectful and aware of the needs of others as well as yourself. Be forthcoming, but be respectful. Most of all, know that sometimes perspectives are different, misunderstandings occur, and relationships may temporarily meet an impasse.

Getting things back on track as soon as possible alleviates anxiety and frustration. Being able to talk about it without judgment or criticism will get you to a better place. If you don’t believe you can handle it on your own, use an intermediary or mediator to help you create a safe and comfortable context in which to talk.

Dr. Laura Richter is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include: surviving infidelity, improving communication, beginning again after divorce and effective co-parenting after divorce. She is also a trained mediator, qualified parenting coordinator and collaborative law mental health professional. For more information, please call or text us today at 561-715-6404 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help.