In 2015 we published an extremely popular article discussing 5 human skills tips you can use to dramatically improve workplace relationships.
Here is the highly requested, updated, version for today.
Every employee, regardless of where one sits on the company's org chart, interacts with other people in the workplace.
An employees' ability to understand and apply critical "human skills" remains central to the effectiveness of these relationships.
Based on what we observed in 2015, here are 5 of the most needed "human skill" improvements management, HR, and workers alike should consider putting into practice to make workplace relations in 2016 better than ever before...
What are human skills?
"Human skills" is the umbrella term we use to describe any hard or soft skill needed to establish, develop, and maintain positive personal and professional relationships.
1. STOP SAYING "I ALREADY DO THAT" & START SAYING "I CAN DO THAT BETTER."
When it comes to human skills, many of us believe we are far more adept at communicating and interacting with others in a positive way than we actually are.
Just because we ARE human doesn't automatically mean we are any good at it.
A simple (and unscientific) field test we use to determine someone's ability to effectively interact with others is how often we hear them say "I already do that."
If people did even half of what they believed they did to effectively interact with coworkers they wouldn't still be having the problems they are having.
Too often, though, our ego causes us to over-estimate our skills, knowledge, or competency.
This is what leads us to conclude that "we aren't the problem."
When "we aren't the problem" we look for external sources to blame.
Blame is never good for relationships.
The simple remedy for this is to change our default response from "I already do that" to "I can do that better."
This neutralizes our ego because it implies we are indeed already doing something but also that we are open to developing our degree of competency at it.
2. LEARN TO SAY "IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!"
If you manage people burn this tip into your brain.
It isn't about you. It is about them, their results, and their success.
This means your primary mandate is to do everything you can to support your employees and set them up to succeed...even when it means rolling your sleeves up.
And when things go right, everyone loves recognition for a job well done, yourself included.
Learn to put your desire for recognition behind you.
Practicing humility while recognizing the contributions of your people will endear you to them.
Competing with your people for recognition is kind of like a parent competing with their child for attention...pretty silly.
3. ACCEPT THAT SH*T FLOWS UPHILL
Where there is success there will be failure.
Failure can mean uncomfortable consequences.
Humans consciously and unconsciously avoid unpleasant consequences through finger-pointing and playing the blame game.
However, if you manage people, their failure (like it or not) is your failure.
Accept this...Own the failure.
Then neutralize it.
This means focusing on understand why it occurred so that you can ensure the same failure isn't repeated.
It also means doing so without over-reacting, blaming, or belittling anyone.
If, on the other hand, when mistakes are made you have a tendency to resemble Teflon...
...You probably shouldn't be leading others (and might consider watching Mutiny On The Bounty).
4. START ASKING "WHY NOT?" INSTEAD OF "WHY?"
When facing a request, asking "why" implies you are going to say "no" unless proper justification is provided.
It also implies you don't care enough about the other person to accommodate their request unless there is a really good reason.
This is kind of like presuming someone is guilty until proven innocent.
Doing so is a flaw in the human condition.
It comes from not wanting to be taken advantage of or looking foolish in front of others.
An easy way to immediately improve relationships with other employees is to ask yourself "why not" instead.
In other words, examine if there are any valid reasons you may have to say "no" to the request. If not, say "yes".
Approaching requests in this way neutralizes any fight the employee making the request is getting ready for.
5. REMEMBER THAT YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE PEOPLE
Stop thinking of employees as "resources".
Oil is a resource. Lumber is a resource. People, however, are not.
When at work we may forget this and see employees as tools to be used by the company as it endeavors to compete and profit.
This is a mistake.
Employees are people who all have unique needs, unique perspectives, and unique ideas.
Employees are people who have many different priorities competing for their time and attention and their job is only one such priority (albeit an important one).
Resources are all similar to one another. People are all different.
Workplace relations improve when these differences are accepted and celebrated.
Neutralize any natural resistance you may feel towards doing this by remembering that acceptance isn't agreement.
You may not agree with each difference but ignoring or rejecting them is to ignore or reject the people who are defined by these differences.
IMPROVING WORKPLACE RELATIONS DOESN'T NEED TO BE COMPLICATED...
...And the best ways to make improvements are not.
They do, however, require changes be made in how you relate to and interact with your staff, coworkers, and customers.
For many, the changes can be summed up with one magnificant word:
This word encompasses what it means to halt the internal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that can cause such dysfunction in our lives.
This word also embraces what is necessary to prevent the inappropriate behaviour of others from disrupting the professional, civil nature of coworker interactions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION...
...on ways to neutralize internal and external behaviours, click the image below to download our Neutralization Guide and learn to stop workplace conflict and relationship breakdowns before they start.