If you realize that communication is the ultimate vessel to creating optimal workplace relationships you understand how vital each team member’s role is to that end result. The idea of creating better relationships with people served, or with our co-workers might seem lofty, but there are some very concrete steps we can take.

1. Answer your phone (open your office door, etc.)

While it may be difficult to pick up every call and it might be even more unrealistic to keep a true “open door” policy, it is very important to be available to the people receiving services from you (or their parents/guardians). Let people know that you are interested in creating good working relationships. This goes for your co-workers and teammates as well. Make every effort to return messages as quickly as possible. This goes for voice messages as well as e-mails.

2. Under promise and over deliver

It is important to be reliable and dependable, but also realistic! Admitting when mistakes have been made help people to feel validated. In our workshops we discuss how healthy relationships allow us to see mistakes as mistakes, not as monumental failures. We should put some thought into promises and commitments we make, deadlines we set, etc. and then exceed those.

3. Listen

A good deal of time in each of our workshops is spent discussing communication and how to facilitate the communicative process. A big part of that is to be quiet and listen. Unfortunately a common mistake is that we fill up the space by talking instead of paying attention to all the elements of communication. What is the person’s body language telling us? How does their voice sound?

4. Listen again

Take a moment to reflect on your own perceptions during communication and don’t forget to get clarification. Literally asking a person, “is this what you meant?” is not a bad idea. Sometimes our own “stuff” can get in the way of our ability to really hear what someone is trying to tell us.

5. Deal with dissatisfaction

If you are one of the many, MANY people who avoid conflict at all cost, dealing with dissatisfaction might be a serious struggle. Stress clouds our ability to think rationally; to communicate effectively; and, to manage our own behavior. Dealing with dissatisfaction as soon as we are made aware of it – while our level of stress is lower – means we will be thinking and communicating more clearly. It is perfectly fine to feel defensive, or apprehensive (or any other way) but we must be able to manage that in order to address and deal with conflict.

We value dignity, respect, honesty and trust in our relationships. These five steps can assist in taking steps towards those core values.

Nikki Wince – Mandt System Faculty Supervisor