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What Are the Causes of Negative Workplace Relationships?

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Negativity amongst colleagues lowers productivity and adversely affects an organization’s overall performance. Ideally, staff members should take on cordial and professional conduct to boost their firm’s profitability. Negative workplace relationships may, however, arise when employees become less considerate and disrespectful to each other. Some team members may make their workmates uneasy and stressed by using derogatory language or by forwarding excessive complaints about colleagues to senior management. Other than these, numerous other reasons may turn work relationships sour.

Poor Communication

Poor communication creates frustration, suspicion and misunderstanding amongst colleagues. John Schaefer, a management consultant and author of "The Vocational Shrink -- An Analysis of the Ten Levels of Workplace Disillusionment," asserts on the American Management Association's website that poor communication can be eliminated by upholding trust, honesty and consistency as an organization. Management should encourage staff members to set aside their differences and focus on issues that can spark growth and lead to future prosperity.

Ineffective Policies

Gwen Morgan, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans," warns on that bad company policies nurture discontented employees who may disrepute the company by humiliating senior colleagues and clients. Ineffective company policies may, for instance, ignite wrangles between various departments concerning inequitable distribution of resources within the company. In an effort to avoid tense, inappropriate, stressful or unfair situations between employees, company policies should clearly define the firm’s acceptable codes and ethics.

Unhealthy Competition

Employees who deploy an unhealthy competitive attitude in nearly every professional undertaking can be confrontational, intimidating and aggressive. Transferring the employee(s) causing problems to other departments may be an amicable solution. Management can also dismiss or suspend such employees, depending on the entity’s rules and regulations.

Tolerating Avoidance

Taking time to think before reacting to contentious issues may be commendable; however, it can be harmful if the problem goes unsolved, as it may boil up and eventually erupt, creating enemies and bad blood amongst employees. "Forbes" contributor Mike Myatt, in his article "5 Keys of Dealing With Workplace Conflict," suggests that running away from workplace conflicts encourages squabbles to prevail amongst workers. It’s therefore advisable to remain steadfast and solve the problem as quickly as possible to prevent future occurrences.


Robin Farr has a background in human resources and internal communication, with an interest in organizational culture. After having a baby in 2008 she struggled with postpartum depression and is now passionate about promoting positive mental health and connecting with parenting communities, both locally, online and through her writing.

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