Allow me to be straight about something.  I have fought against certain professional relationships my entire life.  Why?  Because I’ve continually wished that some people were different, and I’ve been convinced that others were out to get me.  I have turned away potentially fruitful relationships because I was afraid of getting hurt or I questioned a person’s motives.  It’s a shame, and if I can, I’d like to prevent you all from doing the same.  Here are some lessons I’ve now tried to incorporate:

Don’t Dwell on the Negative

If you like and respect a colleague, let it be.  Look for the best in that person. Focus on the traits that prompted you to want to work with them in the first place. Remember that no one is perfect, and one person can be all things to all people.  Accept the things you don’t like and don’t try to change them because that will only result in frustration and friction that could be perceptible to your team.

Maintain Trust

If you basically like and respect someone at work, believe that they mean well and will do right by you. Don’t over-analyze why they behave a certain way, and don’t assume the worst if something happens between the two of you that you don’t understand. Always address issues proactively through open communication, and don’t expect them to read your mind.

Cut Them Slack

If they make a mistake or a decision with which you don’t agree, forgive them.  Trust that they will learn and do things differently next time.  Beware of sky-high expectations. If you’re annoyed that they are not as talented or as articulate or as consistent as you are, recognize that they are probably better than you are in some ways so it evens out in the end.

Meet Face-to-Face

Go out of your way to spend quality time with the important people on your team, especially if you usually work virtually.  Don’t rely on email or social media – it’s not the same as calling someone or seeing them in person.  The more you’re in one another’s presence, the easier it will be to ensure you’re on the same page.

Examine Your Role

If you find yourself having the same problems with co-workers over and over again, the time has come to look at yourself and what you may be doing to cause roadblocks.  Taking responsibility for your own behavior will open the door to improve your workplace relationships in immeasurable ways.

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