It’s all too easy to get into a rut at work and find yourself unhappy with the behavior of others, or maybe even the way you react to it. You can set the tone for encouraging good relationships by making some small changes in your behavior.

1. Be courageous with open communication.

This is the absolute best way to connect and also to reduce potential conflict at work. Deal with issues when they arise and be open, honest and forthcoming when you communicate. Have the courage to have the conversations you need to have in a kind and respectful way, and encourage others to do the same.

2. Clarify expectations.

Don’t make people guess at your undisclosed expectations. Communicate with clarity and don’t expect something from someone that you haven’t specifically asked for. Make it clear: What do you expect to have happen? By when? What will the result look like? Make your requests are as clear and specific as possible.

3. Set an example.

Model the behaviors that you expect from others. For example, if you want to have people be open with you, then be open with them. If you want people to be nice, then be nice first. If you want to model having an “open door” policy, then invite people in to your office regularly and create a welcoming atmosphere.

4. Reinforce desired behaviors.

What gets recognized gets repeated, so recognize and reward team members who work well with others. When you catch someone doing something right, tell them. Better yet, go out of your way to find people doing things well! Acknowledge what you see that you appreciate, and more will come.

5. If someone picks a fight, end it.

PAUSE FIRST.  Don’t make a situation worse by joining in the problem. Think about the best way to handle the situation before you react.  Then, start by listening to understand what is happening.  Look for the root cause of the problem and start with strategies to work on that.

You can improve your relationships if you take the initiative and try some of these strategies. Small changes can make a huge difference.

Changing behavior takes time and practice, so be patient and be consistent!  If you keep working at your behaviors and responses, you really will see a difference.

Those who are interested in ways to improve their work relationships might consider bringing training to your work group or through individual coaching. Here’s a list of current training options.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home 
and 52 Communication Tips Check it out.

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