Managing work relationships

The way that you interact with others in the workplace is important. Good working relationships, where everyone feels respected and supported, help promote a positive work culture.

You need to actively work at building and maintaining relationships in the workplace and be aware and open to others’ situations. Do your part by cultivating:

  • trust—that others can complete their job to a high standard
  • respect—always be considerate, honest and value others' opinions
  • openness—be aware of the different backgrounds and perspectives of your colleagues
  • effective communication—know when to use different methods of communication (e.g. private meeting, group discussion, email, letter etc.).

Work on your own communication skills and when you interact with others be aware of how they might interpret your:

  • body language
  • listening skills
  • eye contact and attentiveness
  • assertiveness or timidness.

Workplace conflict

Sometimes good working relationships can break down and cause conflict or awkwardness.

These situations can arise when there is:

  • a lack of information
  • miscommunication
  • a difference in interests and values
  • discrimination or workplace bullying
  • a stressful working situation (e.g. resourcing or staffing issues).

You can help to prevent this kind of breakdown by being aware of your interactions with others.

Resolving conflict

Help to resolve conflict by:

  • understanding your own reactions
  • being aware of your communication style and actively using reflective listening skills
  • working with others to come to an agreed resolution.

If you feel a conflict is too hard to handle yourself you may be able to seek support and advice from your human resources department.

The kinds of things they may be able to help you with include:

  • formalising a resolution process
  • breaking the issues down into smaller parts
  • identifying the cause of the conflict and offering ideas on how to avoid it in future
  • discussing the risks if the conflict continues.

The Queensland Government has dispute resolution centres that have trained mediators to help you and others involved in workplace conflict to reach a satisfactory outcome.