The problem with unhappy workplace relationships is that it represents 40 hours a week (for most people) when they wish they were somewhere else. Unhappy workplace relationships result in good people finding a better place to work, some people working slower in order to avoid dealing with certain people, or have a lot of sick days. Workplace productivity declines, and often relationships at home suffer.
Here are seven signs of unhappy workplace relationships and action you can take. Share the actions and encourage everyone to use them. Your EAP provider can help strengthen your skills to make it happen.
- People aren’t taking the time to stop and talk, or share what is going on. Not talking or taking time to share is a slippery slope to losing touch with what is important to others, their work priorities, what is happening in their life. When you aren’t on the same page, trust disappears.
What to do? – book regular time to catch up and talk about what you are working on, what matters to others and mutually increasing your understanding of where you both are at. This builds trust and acceptance, leading to more positive behaviour in the workplace.
- There are a lot of negative comments and snide remarks. This is poison in the workplace – we need five positive experiences to wipe out one negative experience from another person. Snide remarks destroy relationships and workplace culture. Sarcasm is not wit, it is being controlling and if it’s repetitive it can be bullying.
What to do? Always put the positive first and last. Practice ‘shush’. You know the old adage, if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything. It’s very, very sound advice. Delivering bad feedback needs to be done skilfully and couching it with positive comments increases the likelihood the person will hear your comments and value them.
- You or other people are feeling threatened. People are being defensive as everything they hear, reinforces the feeling that their beliefs, feelings or character are being threatened. Whether or not it is intended to be threatening, observing defensiveness in how people behave and react indicates feeling threatened. It may indicate more serious problems and at the very least, a person who is being defensive is not listening and not listening = no communication.
What to do? Adopt curiosity, on your own behalf, or in viewing what is happening elsewhere. Take a stance of wanting to learn about what was said, what was meant, why someone feels that way, if you are involved, why you feel that way. Consider the facts and whether other advice is needed, the insights you gain from adopting curiosity will help you make a right decision and recover valuable relationships.
- People are always blaming others, or pointing out all the things they did wrong ..that caused failure for you or for others. Blaming others and justifying one’s own performance is not uncommon, but it can become a festering issue, and the longer it goes on the more damage is done to working relationships. Resentment builds in the workplace with its negative effects.
What to do? If you are concerned by anything another person has done, whether you are being blamed, or you are inclined to blame someone, find a way to calmly and quickly say what has bothered you. Don’t let the matter fester either for you or for someone else. If correction is needed then make the correction and move forward.
- Some one is always pointing out faults? What a relationship killer. It seems so obvious it shouldn’t have to be said. But we all know people who feel they are helping with their critical eye and desire to share their view of faults in others.
What to do? Steer the focus to what is going well, encourage others to focus on what is going well. Interrupt and redirect – fault finding cripples people’s willingness to act.
- People are breaking agreements? … This causes disappointment and eventually destroys trust. When people feel let down they stop trusting you … trust is the foundation of all relationships. Big or small, over time, broken promises erode any relationship.
What to do? If You Break An Agreement, Face it Directly. Let the person know that you are sorry for not meeting your commitment (no matter how small) and commit to only making promises that you can keep. if something prevents you keeping it, let the other person know quickly and reassure them of your commitment and the importance you place on your commitments to them as partner in the relationship.
- Taking people for granted – by assuming others are happy to provide support, or by simply forgetting to be appreciative? This is scarily common. The result? Good people feel not valued and leave the organisation. Often, the people left behind have no real idea why.
What to do? Its more than manners. Show people genuine appreciation for what they do. It can be small, a thoughtful cup of tea, or coffee, can be of great value to someone who is feeling taken for granted; or large, like a recognition program for people who go the extra mile on projects. Greeting people with a smile, saying their name and asking after their welfare, shows you appreciate they are in your world.
Of all things showing appreciation is the most important to maintaining positive relationships in the workplace.
EAP helps relationships problems at work and at home.
If you want additional support, ACT Curious EAP can connect you to a behavioral therapist that meets your needs. You can get started today if ACT Curious EAP is offered by your employer.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Trudgen Director, ACT Curious EAP.
copyright: 12 June 2019