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How to Have Effective Workplace Relationships

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Most people spend so much time at work that having effective workplace relationships is critical. To enhance workplace relationships, communicate effectively, work on interdependence, find positive support networks and seek out strong leaders.

Communicate Effectively

Good communication plays a role in effective relationships. Being unable to tell someone what you need from them is a breeding ground for hostility and confusion. However, this doesn’t mean barking orders; those who express themselves clearly but with kindness are more likely to get along well with those around them. Itemized lists may help if you feel you are not being understood, as might direct questions such as, “When I sent that paperwork over I didn’t send any further instructions because I assumed you knew what was expected. Do you have any questions about it?” If you are on the receiving end, you might ask, “I just wanted to be clear on this before I begin. Can you elaborate on what you expect?” Statements like this ensure that those around you understand what your expectations are while clarifying things in a nonconfrontational and kind way, allowing everyone to foster more effective professional and personal relationships.

Enhance Interdependence

Interdependence -- the way different things affect and are affected by their surroundings -- is a positive in the workplace, suggests a 2002 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Teams who were more interdependent worked together better and had better performance. Allowing yourself to be influenced by other team members -- and allowing yourself to influence them in return -- enhances workplace relationships.

Look For Positive Support Systems

Social satisfaction -- being happy with your group of friends -- improves workplace relationships, says one study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2013. In this study, employees had greater attachment to the company when those workplace ties increased their overall happiness and job satisfaction. Those looking to have effective workplace relationships should ensure that they are involved in positive support networks at their job instead of negative or gossip related ties.

Seek Quality Managers (Or Be One)

Workplace relationships can depend on the quality of leadership in place, notes 2010 research published in the Journal of Nursing Management. Companies that maintain effective managers while allowing employees some control over their job had better performance, decision making and relationships. It's hard to maintain positive social relationships at work when there are constant feuds over how things need to be done. Finding a position that allows for some empowerment while maintaining qualified personnel in leadership roles may make all the difference in promoting effective workplace relationships.


Melody Causewell has been a writer in the mental health field since 2001. She written training manuals and clinical programs for mental health organizations. She has published feature articles "Leaven" magazine and has been published in "Natural Awakenings." She has a degree in psychology, a Masters degree in social work and is a La Leche League leader.

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