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Work Connections Matter

Do you like the people you work with and does it matter?  A recent meta-analysis covering 58 studies and published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review showed that our health at work is influenced by our social relationships in the workplace.  In fact, this study found that both performance and health are improved through social connection and identification.  People might assume that matching one’s personality and skill set to a particular job is the key to a healthy work life. However, this study concluded that feeling a sense of belonging and community was just as important and reduced burnout.  Given the fact that we spend an average of one-third of our day on the job, our level of identification with the people or organization really does matter.

How can we improve our work relationships?  Treating our coworkers and staff with respect, valuing their opinions, and listening to their requests without judgement is a good start.  Remaining professional, even when our emotions are high, and avoiding personalization or lashing is also important.  We can notice goodness and praise positive behaviors.  Simply asking about the health and well-being of a coworker and their family conveys care and concern. Share a little of yourself with your coworkers. Notice I said a little. We all know some who share way too much. But sharing a small detail of a struggle with everyday problems will make you seem more human and therefore more personable.  Reward hard work either monetarily or through a simple gift of a lunch or gift card.  Most importantly, appreciate your staff and colleagues so that they recognize their value and support to the team.

Communicating directly, kindly, and assertively will foster better connections and respect.  Dealing with conflict can often be difficult in the workplace, but when you are able to acknowledge the other person’s position and feelings it is easier to work toward a compromise and resolution.  Discuss conflicts without defensiveness or blame, instead taking responsibility for your part and be able to apologize.  Ultimately you want to put your pride aside and let go of your need for control.  People will work harder for their boss when they like the person, respect them, and feel valued for what they do.  We all want to be appreciated and acknowledged for our contribution to the organization.  Of course people are motivated by money, but positive affirmations and acknowledgement go a long way.  Work can be more enjoyable when you have greater connections and value the people you work with.  Bring a positive attitude and reap the benefits.

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