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4 Ways to Improve Workplace Relationships

Blog / April 25, 2019

Earlier this month, we mentioned that you’re likely to spend more time with the people you work with than with your friends and family. Which means you better make sure those relationships are in pretty good shape. Nobody has time for workplace drama. It hurts your productivity, cuts down on your level of engagement, and hurts your overall level of happiness. It’s also a pretty common reason why people look for new jobs. Here are four ways to improve your workplace relationships.

Be honest and kind 

It always goes back to communication. Always. Most of the time when there’s an interpersonal issue in the workplace, it’s because of a simple misunderstanding. Someone avoided having an open and honest conversation because it was to difficult and so people start to make assumptions, no one knows the truth, and animosity and distrust build. It could be about poor work performance, irritating behaviors, socially awkward behaviors, poor hygiene, or boundary issues. 

Whatever the behavior or issue, it’s a lot more efficient to simply have that difficult conversation so the matter can be resolved. Approach the conversation as though you’re trying to improve the relationship and solve a problem, not like you’re attacking someone. If you aim for collaboration and insight, both parties are more likely to be congenial and kind and the issue is more likely to be resolved. 

Set boundaries 

We’ve all had friends, co-workers, or roommates who’ve start to drain our time or invade our space. And at work, this can especially be a problem. They’re interrupting your workflow, distracting you while you’re on the phone, or disturbing you while you’re conversing with a valued customer. It’s time to set those boundaries. This might mean letting them know that you’re only available to chat during lunch or break times or that they need to check with you before they barge in to chat. 

It might be an awkward conversation at first, and the other person might even have their feelings hurt, but you can frame it as you needing to get your work done. Just make sure you’re firm about your boundaries and your workplace will become a lot more peaceful place to work. 

Don’t be someone else’s problem solver 

It’s nice to be the hero. And sometimes it’s even easier to be the hero instead of watching your co-workers trip all over themselves trying to find a solution. But allowing them to problem solve on their own means you’ll be helping them to grow. If you help them once, you’re setting the precedent to help them again and again. 

Don’t blame or complain 

Nothing is more of a Debbie-Downer than someone complaining! The biggest problem is that it doesn’t solve anything, it just brings other people down with you. Start being mindful of every time you complain about or blame another person, and start repeating to yourself, “I take responsibility for my own experience.” Not only does this free you of the resentment that you feel towards the other party, it puts the control in your hands. Though you can’t always dictate what happens, you can decide how you react to it. It helps if you view every experience as a chance for growth!


All relationships need work from time to time, whether it’s your marriage, a friendship, or your relationship with a colleague. If you can be honest and kind, setting appropriate boundaries and giving your co-workers the chance to grow, you’ll be more at peace at work. This will give you the chance to be your best, most productive and engaged self. For more tips on staying focused and motivated at work, check out our website at

Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh