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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante    

Strengthen your work relationships and feel happier on the job

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

In the news, we are hearing a lot about job dissatisfaction. New terms such as “quiet quitting” (doing the bare minimum at work) are becoming popular on social media. This is very likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic when major changes happened to the workforce. At the end of 2021, the Toronto Star reported on a study that found that 65 per cent of Canadians were considering a job change. This was mostly due to unhappiness with wage and salary, less job satisfaction, and lower sense of wellbeing.

Clearly, there are many factors that influence if and why we like our jobs. But one thing that we can do to increase job satisfaction that is within our control is to build strong relationships with co-workers. Interpersonal skills are important in the workplace and are related to emotional intelligence and the way you communicate and interact with others.

Interpersonal skills are usually assessed during job interviews nowadays and are a factor when being considered for a promotion. Regardless of the amount of education and training you have, it is crucial to be able to get along well with customers, co-workers, and managers. Even if you like to work independently on projects, like writers and accountants often do, you still must be able to communicate and work well with your team.

Below are six types of interpersonal skills to pay attention to when you interact with people in your place of employment. Improving each of these abilities will increase your sense of wellness at work.

1. Communication

This includes verbal and nonverbal communication. We need to be able to express our ideas clearly without using too many words, otherwise the main message can get lost. Our nonverbal communication also must match what we are trying to say. For example, if we want to convince others to consider an idea, we cannot stare out the window, have our bodies turned away from our co-workers, or be texting on our phone. Public speaking is also a valued skill that employers look for. If you want to improve on your presentation skills, you must practice, practice, practice. The more presentations you do, the easier it gets.

2. Active listening

This skill goes hand-in-hand with communication. Oftentimes, we think that we are listening to a person when we are actually thinking about what we are going to say next. For example, if a co-worker says that they are having trouble on a project, carefully listen to what they are struggling with. Otherwise, we are simply giving advice, which may not be helpful if it isn’t about what they need. Ways to improve our listening skills are to be curious, focus on what others are saying, and repeat back to them what you heard.

3. Empathy

After hearing what a co-worker, customer, or manager says, it may be appropriate to show empathy. Showing empathy means to convey kindness, patience, and caring to someone through words and gestures. Kindness begets kindness, so this will enhance team building and collaboration.

4. Conflict management

Not surprisingly, conflict and disagreements happen in the workplace. It takes a lot of skill and professionalism to be able to give and accept constructive criticism. Learn to keep things at a discussion level, rather than allow conflict to grow into an argument or ongoing resentment. This involves good problem-solving skills, compromise, and mediation.

5. Leadership

It is important to build trust with colleagues and offer encouragement, even if you are not a supervisor or manager. This goes a long way towards cultivating a positive environment. Offering your own ideas fosters innovation and creativity, but that must also go along with encouraging the ideas of others. A good leader must also know how to be a good negotiator and seek to find compromise.

6. Positivity

It isn’t always easy to see the bright side or the silver lining in things. But even when there are challenges, establishing a positive relationship with co-workers leads to increased job satisfaction. In addition to being friendly and considerate, make it a priority to network. Find out what people’s roles are in the organization and how you can collaborate with them on projects. This will also give you meaning and purpose in your job!

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

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