Wouldn’t work be a dream if you could always work with people you got along with? Unfortunately, as with every aspect of life, we can’t always pick the people we are surrounded by at work or control their behaviours in certain situations.

When it comes to tense workplace relationships, it’s not worth getting swept up in the negativity of a situation and focusing on what you cannot control. Rather, you should spend your energy focusing on what you can do to positively transform your relationship and influence behaviour. We have listed a few tips to help you do just that.


  1. Document negative behaviour

Keeping a diary of all interactions that cause you to feel on edge or disgruntled with a co-worker can be a great first step in identifying how to solve your issue.

Doing so can help you identify why you have an issue with a particular person. Do they really intend to put you off in this way, or is it just a clash of opinions or personality styles? Is there an immediate change you can make to how you interact with this person, to diminish future unhealthy exchanges?

Documenting behaviour can also help put the situation in perspective. Sometimes we tend to build up issues mentally to be more significant than they are. Putting your thoughts from mind to paper may help you better analyse the gravity of each issue and identify what your next steps should be.


  1. Check yourself before you stress yourself

Sometimes we unconsciously choose not to like someone at work because they display the same bad habits that we have ourselves. When those habits are reflected back on us, we don’t like it.

Or, you may dislike a co-worker because they seem to always be bossing you around or criticising your work. Before you write them into your bad books, ask yourself, are their complaints valid? Is there anything you can do to immediately resolve your relationship by changing your own behavior?

Since the only behaviour you have any control over is your own, this step may be the hardest to admit but it’s the easiest to resolve.


  1. Learn about the other 

Making an effort to learn and understand what makes a person tick can help come to terms with why they may have behaved in certain way. For example, a co-worker may be in an unpleasant mood, but if you know that they’ve been experiencing some personal issues at home, it might help you put their negativity into context. Realise their behaviour is not a reflection of the way they feel about you.

This may not necessarily make someone “nicer” in your eyes, but it can give you an understanding of where they are coming from.


  1. Always be the grown-up in the room

When you were in school, you were expected to get along with everyone all the time, regardless of the circumstance. If you could do that at the age of eleven, why wouldn’t you be able to do it now as an adult?

Don’t worry, we don’t mean you have to become best friends and hang out on the “quad” during your lunch breaks. All you have to do is take a deep breath, stay polite and maintain professionalism in the face of conflict.


  1. Never add gossip-fuel to a conflict-fire

If someone has treated you in a way you don’t like, it’s easy to want bad mouth them to other colleagues. While it may seem initially fun to tell terrible tales of Dreadful Dianne, it’s not usually a good move. While this may provide a short-term satisfaction for you, ask yourself, will it fix your long-term relationship with Dianne? No. Will it make you seem mature and professional to your co-workers? Probably not.


  1. Seek Help

If you’re finding that a co-worker is causing your productivity to drop or your mental health is suffering, take the issue up with a manager. Should you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

We offer workplace mediation and facilitation to help individuals or groups in the workplace identify problems and resolve disputes. We always act without bias, as a neutral third party to help all involved individuals cooperatively develop options, consider alternatives and eventually reach an agreement.

To learn more about how workplace mediation and facilitation may be able to help you visit our website or chat to us confidentially (02) 6189 0590.

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