10 Tips for a healthy office environment

10 Tips for a healthy office environment

Stress at work can take its toll on your mental health, especially if you factor in a difficult colleague on top of your energy-sapping daily work load.

Healthy relationships at work are vital, however, as they help shape the office culture and are important not only for your emotional wellbeing but also for the bottom line.

All too often, though, there is that one tricky character who is a nightmare to work with. Perhaps they push your buttons in all the wrong places, they do not pull their weight, or in other ways they make your job harder than it needs to be.

Tempting as it is to play the person and not the ball, that will just lead to more bitterness and resentment in the office. Instead, try one or more of these strategies to win them over:

  1. Be calm: it’s never a good idea to tackle anyone when you are seething, and you may lose respect if you lose control. Rather wait until you’ve cooled down and state your case calmly and professionally.
  2. Treat them with respect: colleagues who feel disrespected are more likely to feel alienated and extremely unlikely to give their best at work. However, if there is anything they do well, give credit and praise - everyone likes and needs recognition!
  3. Look for their trigger: they may not be driving you crazy on purpose but actually have an underlying reason for being this difficult. What is making them act in this way? What is stopping them from being co-operative? Then, once you’ve pinpointed their problem, how can you help them to address it, and resolve the situation?
  4. Don’t take it personally: many people are difficult, rude or disrespectful even without a trigger so it can help if you realise the negative behaviour is not necessarily aimed at sabotaging you, or your work.
  5. Get perspective: It often helps to talk the issue through with other colleagues, managers and friends who have encountered their fair share of difficult people. You might also chat to an objective outsider who will see things from a different angle and give useful advice.
  6. Be helpful: perhaps your difficult colleague really can’t cope because no one has shown them the ropes in the office. In which case, think about how you can help them to acquire the necessary skills. However, don’t continually do their work for them: stepping in to help once or twice is being a good colleague but continuing to do so is enabling a bad pattern.
  7. Let them know where you are coming from: it can help if they can see you are not just being difficult but have a sound work reason for your intervention. Once they realise how their actions impact on your work, they are more likely to empathise with you and – hopefully – be more willing to help.
  8. Build a relationship: just like you, that person has a home as well as work life so don’t be afraid to show your human side, and get to know them as a fellow human being as well as a worker. Electronic communication has its place but there is always room for a personal greeting, friendly smile, and a caring inquiry about family or hobbies. If you can build strong connections this will go a long way in your work.
  9. Focus on what you can do: if your difficult colleague has messed up, don’t point a finger for what has gone wrong but rather look at what can be done to fix it. Focus on constructive, positive steps you both can take to move the work forward.
  10. Let it go: if you really have done everything that you can to try to improve the work relationship and your colleague is still as obnoxious or difficult as ever, it might be time to let it go. Try to ignore them and get on with your own job as best as you can.

If letting it go is impossible because the way they do their job has a totally negative impact on yours, then the final step might be to escalate it to management.

Yes, it is better to resolve issues between yourselves but if this is not an option then you may have to go over their head for general office efficiency and harmony. Sometimes it can’t be avoided but at least make sure you have your facts right.
In line with the theory of “to have a friend, be a friend”, you can – and will – help to encourage a healthy and productive office environment by being a great colleague to others.
Remember, every person in the office receives their salary because they each contribute in some or other way to the success of your business - teamwork is dreamwork!

Date Published: 
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