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Improve Relationships To Improve Productivity At Work

by Daniel Goh

Relationships can often seem like fragile things—especially in the workplace where they are often built and destroyed by our behavior. Even a casual remark could be taken by a colleague or boss to imply your dissatisfaction with him or her and if left unresolved could create further misunderstanding, unhappiness and even unproductive behavior in the workplace.

When an individual or a group of people are dissatisfied or unhappy with another individual or group, productivity is bound to suffer as time and energy is misdirected. And if the relationship with clients and associates are not strongly founded, the repercussions would be even more immediate and affect bottom line substantially. Prevention of unnecessary conflicts among colleagues, associates and clients would only be possible if relationships are built on support, understanding and respect.

Why do we not have great relationships in the workplace?

First and foremost, it's the classic "It's not my problem". We think that we are 'alright' in our treatment of others and if there is a problem with any relationship, "Please take a look at the other party". In some circumstances, it is an accepted scenario that working relationships will have problems so we take it that it's part of life.

Secondly, people don't realize that as long as you are in the same organization, whatever happens that is counter-productive has an effect on almost everyone.

A simple example is that of a manager in manufacturing not pleased with the sales department and not doing his or her best to deliver goods to the customers may result in dissatisfaction on the part of the customers and subsequent termination of orders from the manufacturer. Resulting in lower sales and profit for the manufacturer and even lower incentives and bonuses for the entire organization.

Thirdly, even when we do pursue great relationships with everyone in the workplace, the attempt is still unsuccessful, simply because of the lack of necessary knowledge and skills. Relationships are made up of the most complicated things in this whole earth: humans. What makes a person thinks, feels, say, do, decide the way he or she does? To develop understanding for another person, we need to understand what makes the person tick and even more importantly, we must know what makes us tick.

Some Tips For Creating Great Relationships At Work

1. Responsibility: For a relationship to improve, at least one party should decide the relationship is important and make an effort to improve it. Taking responsibility is often the first step to improve anything. Realizing that "I may have some part to play in the souring of relationship with that person" is a great way to start. If I am not happy about a relationship, it is more useful for me to think about what I need to do, or not do, to make it better. I can change my behavior much more easily than I can persuade you to change yours.

2. Integrity: In an organization, work is interconnected. If you fail to meet deadlines and commitments, you affect the work of other employees. Affecting the work performance of another is one sure way for a relationship to deteriorate. Always keep commitments, and if you can't, make sure all affected employees know what happened at the earliest possible time so that contingencies can be applied. Keeping your integrity would not only improve your relationships, it would bring your life to a whole new level of success, happiness and fulfillment.

3. Communication: The best way to understand is to listen and observe without making premature judgments. In my experience, active listening can help you discover that, quite often and remarkably, all of us as adults want the same things. When listening, you are encouraged to listen from your heart, to listen with compassion and understanding, and to put yourself in the other person's shoe and understand why they say the things they do and what are the underlying feelings they expressed. Always ask how the person feels about what he or she is saying and what makes the person feels that way. Listening without judgment and interruption takes great discipline. We must remember the reward for this great discipline is a great relationship which is immeasurable.

4. Appreciation: Appreciation means a rise in value. Appreciate everything that comes your way, be it people, things, situations or events in your life. If you do that constantly, you will see a remarkable change in your business and your life! Remember that no one is perfect. All of us have idiosyncrasies, shortcomings, life crises and bad days. Appreciate the difference. One important and simple factor of appreciation is saying "Thank You". Being the courteous person that we are, we would probably say "Thank You" tens of times everyday, so much so it has become perfunctory. We say thanks as it is expected of us, though I feel sad to think that we miss out such great opportunities to appreciate another human being. The next time an opportunity arise for you to thank someone, it could be the fast-food counter staff, your children, the food hawker or anyone else. Look the person in the eyes and then say "Thank You" from your heart. Feel the warm feeling in your heart and the special appreciation from the recipient from your appreciation. This is one of the simplest and most effective relationship builders.

5. Reciprocity: Do you want others to pay full attention when you speak to them? Do you want others to appreciate the things you do? Do you want people to value your relationship with them? If you answer yes to the above, guess what, so do almost everyone else. If you would like to develop great relationships with everyone, ask yourself, "How would I like to be treated by others?" and use that standard as your yardstick in your relationships with others. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you, and look forward to a much more fulfilling, happy and profitable life.

6. Culture: We create relationships by sharing thoughts and feelings. When we express anger, irritation, sadness, happiness, joy or contentment, we feel more connected. Unexpressed feelings with anyone can get in the way of building closeness. It is difficult for two people to have a useful conversation if one of them is unaware that the other is angry about something the he or she said or did. There is a good chance that this will result in a cold or aggressive atmosphere when these two people meet, and this will get in the way. Organizational cultures that encourage people to connect can generate a passionate commitment to achieve wonderful things together. Where a dire situation is obvious, the opportunity arises for us to develop a conducive culture or environment where people value relationships, starting with our own selves.

Daniel Goh is a relationships coach with New Life Coaching and has worked across diverse industries such as IT, Health, Education, Investment and Personal Development. In the capacity of Sales and Marketing Executive, Business Development Manager and Division Director locally and in Hong Kong, China and Australia. His areas of specialties include Communication, Sales, Marketing, interpersonal relationships and the study of personalities. Calling all managers and human resources personnels, contact Daniel at 65-90710868 or e-mail for future runs of the "Creating Great Relationships In The Workplace" and "Science Of Increasing Sales" workshops.


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