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How difficult relationships at work can affect resilience

As working hours continue to creep up, most of us find that we spend more time with our colleagues at work then we do with our family and friends. We tend to create our own ‘work families’ and share the ups and downs of our personal/professional lives with each other, as well as the daily intrigue of office life over a nice cup of tea.

However, don’t be surprised when cracks eventually appear and no amount of tea making will dispel the simmering tensions in the office. Whether it’s a manager that frequently flies off the handle, a co-worker that constantly whines or someone who likes to sabotage your success - friction amongst colleagues is inevitable in such close proximities. Sometimes a colleague might harbour resentment towards you too, so don’t discount your own actions and behaviours.

Balancing these relationships can be very tricky, but if left unresolved, resentments can easily snowball to the point where coming into the office will be un-bearable. This can be quite uncomfortable for you and will have a direct impact on your wellbeing.

Here are a few tips that might help address these issues –

Start with self-examinationDifficult Relationships At Work

Have you considered if the other person is really the problem and not just you over reacting? Do you find you always experience difficulties with the same type of person or actions? We all have our ‘hot buttons’ that are easily pushed, but can you recognise your own? Make sure you always start with self-examination first before you start labelling someone else as being the source of your problem.    

Confide in a friend or colleague

Confide in a trusted friend or colleague and brainstorm ways to address the situation. Sometimes in certain circumstances your emotions might get the better of you, which could lead you to say something or do something that might make the situation worse. It’s always best to speak to friends or colleagues to get their perspective and commit to actions that won’t hurt the situation even further. Sometimes just the moral support and encouragement from those closest to you can help. 

Have ‘The Talk’

No one likes having difficult conversations and the build up to having ‘the talk’ can be quite stressful. A recent survey by One Poll showed that two-thirds of 2,000 workers surveyed said they were stressed or anxious if they knew a difficult conversation was coming up, while 11% said they had poor sleep or nightmares thinking about the impending conversation. Majority of people are afraid of not knowing how the other person will react so being prepared before the meeting will help immensely –

  • If it’s a tricky subject try and suggest solutions or alternatives, so you can both focus on constructive outcomes
  • Use clear and simple language so that you manage to get your point across without causing confusion
  • Make sure you listen to the other person and hear their point of view to show that you care about how they see things
  • Keep the focus on the issue at hand and not the person

The follow up

It’s best to follow up from your initial discussion and see if the person’s behaviour has changed. Try and determine if their behaviour has gotten better or worse, and then decide if a follow-up discussion is needed. Ask yourself whether you want to keep confronting this person by yourself or if you need the support of your manager. If you have not resolved the problem yourself and it is still affecting your current job and wellbeing then escalate the matter and move on.

Ultimately, organisations large or small regularly employ people with various characteristics and personality traits which will not always be compatible with their peers. What matters is how you deal with the individual and how you overcome your differences, in order to maintain a happy working environment together.

Want to know more about how to improve the resilience in your organisation? Download our brochure or contact us now.


Nitika Frost

Nitika Frost, Client Services Executive

In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the processes we use to learn in today’s world.

Copyright © 2015 Bray Leino Learning

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