Human beings are naturally social creatures, whether this is at work, in the home or in the community. We all crave positive interactions with people and many of us tend to be happier when we have those interactions. When we have good relationships with the people we work with we find we are more innovative and creative. We can also focus on opportunities rather than overcoming problems associated with negative relationships.
Resources provided below will assist us to continue to develop, restore, and nurture healthy, meaningful relationships with family, friends, colleagues, work community and the broader community.
The University of Adelaide has recently released the Staff Values and Behaviour Framework. These behaviours and values will ensure that we continue to build and strengthen our relationships.
Building meaningful relationships
Strengthening relationships through staff values and behaviours
- Respect - Developing mutual respect is vital in all relationships. We can do this through valuing ideas, valuing our colleagues’ time and input from our peers. Through mutual respect we foster teamwork.
- Integrity - Be accountable for our actions and outcomes and ensure that we keep our word. Be mindful in interactions and take responsibility for your own feelings and actions.
- Discovery - Listening, with all of your attention, will allow you to learn from and understand the experience of the other person. Building relationships require both parties to listen, understand, respect and grow from interactions. Be proactive in looking for new ways to work and to support each other.
- Excellence -Through building strong, respectful relationships with colleagues a safe culture will develop. This will encourage all to speak up, to challenge poor outcomes and behaviours and provide timely constructive feedback. Assume responsibility and acknowledge your mistakes. Remember that you may not have achieved what you had hoped to yet!
- Collegiality - Teams that work together, share ideas and knowledge and support each other ensure strong working relationships resulting in achievement of goals. Teams that display appreciation, motivation and inspiration for each other and other teams will build relationships that are resilient and will endure tough times. It is also important to have fun and celebrate achievements.
Developing strong relationships at work
- Trust - This is the foundation of every good relationship. When you trust your team and colleagues, you form a powerful bond that helps you to work and communicate more effectively. If you trust the people you work with, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions, and you don't have to waste time and energy "watching your back." You are not afraid of respectful disagreements and don’t take criticism personally.
- Mutual respect – When you respect the people who you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours. Working together you can develop solutions based on your collective insight, wisdom and creativity.
- Mindfulness – This means taking responsibility for your words and actions. Those who are mindful are careful and attend to what they say. They don't let their own negative emotions impact the people around them.
- Welcoming diversity – People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. For instance, when your friends and colleagues offer different opinions from your own, you take the time to consider what they have to say and factor their insights into your decision-making.
- Open communication – We communicate all day, whether we're sending emails and messages or meeting face to face. The better and more effectively you communicate with those around you, the richer your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, honest communication.
Sometimes we find that we get annoyed in a relationship, whether it is at work or at home. It is important to understand that a conflict in a relationship does not mean that the relationship is doomed to fail. In fact, a conflict can allow us to clear the air, share our ideas, understand each other more and build a stronger relationship.
Consider the following tips to manage conflict:
- Take time to listen to each other and ensure that you do not interrupt while listening to the other person.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Through understanding what they are feeling and what their viewpoint is, will help you manage a conflict conversation.
- Consider what is true in what the other person is saying. Can you correct the situation? Will an apology help get the relationship back on track?
- Beware of an emotional hijack! Sometimes we may find ourselves saying things we don’t mean or we act in a way that is not true to ourselves. Allow for emotions and acknowledge how the other person is feeling.
- Focus on what is good and positive about the relationship, remain respectful in all interactions. You may discover that both of you are actually wanting the same thing, just approaching it from different angles.
- Speak with meaning and find common ground. Keep in focus what is most important in the situation and in the relationship. Talk about shared goals and values to find common ground.
- Live to your principles, values and beliefs. Don’t sacrifice in these to make a relationship work. Giving up your principles, values and beliefs may lead to you being ineffective and the relationship may fail anyway.
- Remember if you are feeling overwhelmed or feeling like you need to take a break from a tough conversation take a break and make a time to come back to the issue after a break.
- It is important to act according to your values and beliefs. You may find that you become the catalyst for others to follow their values and act in a positive, respectful manner.
Starting a difficult conversation
Here are a range of ‘ice-breakers’ that may assist you to start a tough conversation.
- “I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.”
- “I’d like to talk about (name the issue) with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.”
- “I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
- “I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)?” If the person says, “Sure, let me get back to you,” follow up with him or her
- “I think we have different perceptions about (name the issue). I’d like to hear your thinking on this.”
- “I’d like to talk about (name the issue). I think we may have different ideas about how to (state a mutual goal that you are both wanting to achieve).”
- “I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about (name the issue). I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well.”