How women can strengthen relationships at work

26th May 2016
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Building good relationships is a cornerstone of achieving success at the workplace. Good and strong relationships at the workplace result in a less stressful and more productive environment. It is therefore imperative to make a conscious effort to build positive people skills. Raising self-awareness not only makes you comfortable with yourself and identifying your relationship needs, but it also helps you enhance your awareness of others and understand their feelings and emotions as well. This high level of awareness can be attained by tapping into your emotional intelligence and working on it.

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People who can identify and work based on their emotional intelligence are extremely efficient in managing relationships with co-workers, managers, and teams. They also have great communication skills – they are great listeners. The ability to listen and gauge the underlying emotions instantly and deeply, and then base further interactions on that understanding, comes with this awareness. It gives one the ability to put things in perspective and be empathetic. When one listens well and is present in the moment, it becomes possible to perceive people’s non-verbal reactions. Ninety-two percent of our assessment of other people is based on physical appearance, mannerisms, and tone and only eight percent is verbal content. For effective communication all these aspects ­ from deep listening to speaking effectively ­ are required.

Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, both experts in emotional intelligence, suggest that emotions and moods influence our problem-solving strategies. Moods of anxiety and depression can direct towards the self, whereas positive moods direct attention outward. Staying in a positive frame of mind can definitely lead to positive effects in relationships and therefore team work.

How women can do it

Strengthening relationships at work may not be very different for men and women. The principles remain the same. However, there are areas like workplace acceptability and assimilation that may present different challenges for women. Women often feel that they are not accepted well in the male dominated workplace. Assimilation is the ability to understand and absorb the values and behaviours that make organisational culture. Being comfortable within the organisation is critical for overall performance. To be accepted, first seek to understand. Most successful women have made conscious efforts towards building acceptance through creating trust. Developing a good rapport with colleagues or team members is vital. The ability to work together assimilating the environment and unlearning old gender based beliefs goes a long way in building trust and acceptability.

Also, watch your negative thoughts and identify how you respond to others in a high-pressure situation. Do you oscillate between passive and aggressive behaviour patterns? A large number of women display passive traits as a result of years of conditioning and then when the pressure builds up over time, there is a burst of aggression! Tapping into and working on your emotional intelligence, creating awareness of self and others can help build a more assertive behaviour pattern. A coach can support and help tap into that potential to achieve success with relationships.

Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. Assertiveness includes behavior traits such as listening well and expressing feelings appropriately without causing an upheaval. If you have the ability to deal positively and objectively with disagreements, you will certainly have good relationships with your colleagues as it creates respect and trust. The amount of trust in a relationship determines its strength and depth. Taking accountability for what you set out to do also creates trust, respect and therefore acceptability.

Ultimately, effective relationship management points to the ability to communicate well and lead others if required, while taking care of their development. For women to truly assimilate and fit in to the organisation and build strong work relationships, it is important to be open minded, to be able to lead, persuade, and inform others.

Here are some thought provoking questions to ask yourself and reflect upon:

  • Do I respect myself? Who am I and what do I do?
  • Do I identify and recognise my needs as an individual?
  • Do I make clear “I” statements, stating my needs appropriately?
  • Do I allow myself and therefore others to make mistakes or do I take rigid positions?
  • Do I allow myself to change my mind? Do I allow others to change their minds?
  • Do I allow myself to enjoy my achievements or do I take them for granted and go aggressively after other material or tangible goals?
  • Do I expect people to read my mind or do I ask?
  • How do I deal with disagreements? Do I make the effort to see others’ viewpoint? Do I ever ask for time to think things over or do I rush my perspective?
  • Do I take accountability for my work and behaviour or do I blame it on external factors?
  • Do I understand that I am not responsible for the behaviour of other adults and that doing this will lead to acrimony in the long run?
  • Do I genuinely respect others and diverse ways of thinking?

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory)

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