Wednesday 27 June 2018

How to build productive work relationships with colleagues

In our previous blog post we talked about how to reach out to our male colleagues to offer additional support when they need it. Today, we wanted to look more generally at how to build productive working relationships with all people within our team or work group.

We spend most of our waking lives at work, so while we’re there it’s best to make the most of the time we spend with our colleagues. This means making the effort to build more productive connections with them. As with all relationships, you get out what you put in and – however different our personalities may be within work teams – taking the time to get to know your colleagues better will always pay dividends, be it through better work performance or a more enjoyable work environment.

These top tips should help you connect with your colleagues:

Start the day as you mean to go on

We know how tempting it is just to get to your desk, plug in and get started – especially if you’re not a morning person! However, just five minutes every morning greeting your work colleagues is all it takes to start the day off on a positive footing. Time well spent, we say!

Be inquisitive, be interested

The strongest relationships are built on shared interests. By going that extra mile to find out what makes your co-workers tick, inside and outside of work, you can identify connections – such as a shared joy of cooking or an interest in a sports club – that will then strengthen, your working relationships. Don’t be afraid to show your personal side and ask questions of your colleagues – you’ll be surprised what you will find out and the positive impact this can have on your working relationships.

All work, some play!

Used to eating lunch alone? Stop. That will do nothing to benefit your work relationships! Make the effort to connect with your colleagues in a more social setting instead. Go to the canteen, take a lunchtime stroll or, if lunchtimes are difficult, agree to grab a drink after work. It doesn’t have to be every day, but spending a little down-time with colleagues regularly will really help with team bonding, which is especially valuable if you have new team members to welcome or are about to kick off a new project.

Show some support

We all have a role to play in the wellbeing of our colleagues. As well as managing our own workload, it pays to keep an eye on colleagues and offer support if they need it. We don’t mean taking their work off them – but simple gestures of goodwill, like grabbing the lunch order or keeping their coffee cups full can strengthen team bonds. It also means that you’re more likely to get the support you need when you need it, as a result.

Effective teams take work at relationships. They don’t grow over night, so be patient. Some of the strongest, life-long relationships started off at work, so get to know your team mates both as colleagues and as individuals, and you’ll soon see positive results.

For more tips on how to develop better working relationships, why not read this blog post from Psychology Today. 

Wednesday 13 June 2018

How to reach out to male colleagues to check they’re ok

It’s Men’s Health week 11-17 June. The focus of this year’s campaign is male diabetes, with one man in ten being diagnosed with the disease in the UK. You can find out more about the campaign and the movement here: On the website you’ll find lots of resources and information about the disease and how to get support.

What this year’s campaign highlighted to us was how difficult it can be for men to reach out and get the care they need in the workplace – not just for physical conditions but for mental wellbeing issues too.

We all have a role to play in making sure that our colleagues are supported in the workplace. It can be something as simple as asking people how their day is going or offering a friendly word during a busy work period. Engaging with male colleagues can often be more challenging, given that many men tend towards keeping their emotions under wraps.

Often, for men, there is usually no outward response to stress triggers and they internalise frustration, so it’s even more important to make sure male colleagues have the support they need and are able to speak to colleagues if they need to.

Men are more likely to find it hard to talk about things that are bothering them. While women are more used to sharing, men may need more encouragement to talk. So, we’ve pulled together a few tips to help.

You talk first

The best way to build connections with work colleagues and encourage dialogue is by opening up to the other person first. If you show your own vulnerabilities or share your own concerns, colleagues will feel more comfortable telling you what’s on their mind. When you are talking you can usually get an idea of how likely someone is to open up to you by the way they act when you are speaking. If he’s giving you his full attention—not looking at his watch or phone – this shows a genuine interest in what you have to say, which marks the start of a meaningful dialogue.

Body language speaks volumes

When a male colleague opens up to another, he will see this as showing vulnerability which men are conditioned not to do from birth. If you're talking to a male colleague and notice that they're twiddling their thumbs, running fingers through their hair, or subconsciously tapping their desk, this may indicate that they're preparing to show you their vulnerable side. This could take some time, so be patient and be there, ready to listen.

Be direct

When it comes to reaching out to a male colleague often the best policy is to be direct and ask them outright if everything is OK. Men, more so than women, in the workplace respond best to open and honest conversations, rather than open-ended invitations to connect. If you are worried or concerned about a male colleague – especially after you have already opened the lines of communication as outlined in our first two points – the best way to find out how you can help support them better, is to simply ask them.

The differences between male and female communication styles in the workplace is well documented. Problems only arise – according to this article in Psychology Today when we try and control how other people communicate, rather than adapt our own way of connecting to suit their needs.

Despite the different ways we have of articulating ourselves, by going the extra mile to understand how our male colleagues prefer to communicate, we can build a more supportive work environment for everyone.