While it's unrealistic to expect all employees to like each other, there is a basic level of collaboration that's essential in any workplace
Getting on well with others determines our mood, our state of mind and affects our performance, according to Dr Jenny Brockis, medical practitioner and author of the book Future Brain.
While it's unrealistic to expect to like everyone we meet, Dr Brockis argues that it’s important to get on well enough, so you can get on with your work without getting side-tracked by your internal narrative and negative emotions.
“Much as you may long for the day they get transferred or leave the country, in the interim you're stuck and if having to change your role or job isn't an option then it's going to be all about managing your level of reactivity,” Dr Brockis said.
“When it comes to managing office politics and workplace relationships, staying out of danger begins with recognising your triggers and developing those strategies to keep you safe.”
Dr Brockis identified six ways for employees to get along better with each other:
1. Identify what pushes your buttons
What is it that you dislike about another person's behaviour? Do you hate people being late? Do you loathe brown-nosers? Do you get upset when someone else takes the credit for your hard work? Remember these triggers are unique to you and you alone.
2. Decide whether the behaviour is worth responding to
Does their behaviour affect you directly or is it a conflict of values? Look for ways to reappraise the situation and reduce your level of irritation. Punctuality isn't everyone's strong point. If Jimmy's lateness is impacting the office then it needs to be addressed for everyone's sake. If it's only you who gets annoyed and no one else seems to care if Jimmy is always five minutes late - is it a battle worth fighting?
3. Keep things in perspective with early intervention
Bad behaviour and inappropriate comments are best dealt with when the matter is relatively minor. Suppressing emotion is the worst form of emotional regulation as it intensifies emotions (on both sides) putting you at risk of a volcanic eruption. Acknowledging how you feel and saying it out loud reduces the level of emotional intensity, keeps things in perspective and makes having that difficult conversation easier to manage.
4. Keep your distance
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of the brain used for logic, reasoning, decision-making and regulating our emotional response. Emotions being part of the limbic system are generated extremely fast compared to the somewhat slower and more ponderous PFC. Taking a step back along with a deep breath provides you the space needed for a more measured response.
5. Practice makes perfect
Developing the regular practice of keeping an open mind, keeping things in perspective and reframing the situation helps us respond not react. Start by giving yourself permission to take regular time out, to relax and chill. Whether you choose Tai Chi, meditation or hanging out with friends, it's about creating space for yourself, lowering your reactivity and enhancing acceptance of difference.
6. Seek commonality
We are all human. Finding some point of commonality whether through sport, kids or a shared interest in music can help break down barriers and enhance all of our working relationships.