Workplace Relationship Challenges and How to Handle Them

Workplace Relationship Challenges and How to Handle Them
One of the most important things you can do at work is learning not to take things personally. When stressed, people often take out their frustrations on others around them.

In today’s ever-evolving global landscape, the challenges in front of business professionals are enormous. Everyone is stretched to a point where it is difficult to think beyond the immediate and near-term challenges of managing multiple stakeholders’ day-to-day and quarter-to-quarter

expectations! One of the keys to managing today is to ensure that colleagues across the organization are aligned with the core purpose of the organization. For colleagues to be aligned, the relationships between colleagues need to be cohesive and collaborative. 

How do we make a smooth working relationship possible? Any relationship has its challenges. But workplace relationships can be particularly complex. Although it is in everyone’s best interests to get along in the workplace, it is not always easy. Sometimes, workplace relationships can get quite challenging. Difficult conversations may need to be had, but these are the exact conversations that will help you grow professionally. Here are some suggestions on how to go about it. 

Understand Different Temperaments

Various personality types exist in the workplace, which can cause a lot of friction among colleagues. Everyone has a unique temperament and, as such, has a distinct way of responding to situations. Some people are phlegmatic and may not be as forthcoming with their ideas. You may have to do some heavy lifting by taking the lead here.

Others may be a lot more dominant and overbearing. Here, you must hold your ground and make sure your voice is heard. Some colleagues may prefer to work alone, while others thrive on collaboration; some may prefer a structured way of working, while others may want flexibility. Understanding your temperament and the temperament of your colleagues will greatly improve your working relationships with each other.  

Learn From Each Other

You may encounter a very outspoken colleague in meetings who don’t like having their ideas challenged. In this situation, please take a moment to try to understand their temperament. Could it be that they feel challenged on a personal level? Have an open discussion with them to understand and learn how you can better communicate with them.

Maybe they prefer having a separate conversation with you after the team meeting, or they would like you to email them your questions so they can provide thoughtful answers. Learn how they prefer to work, share how you like to work, and come up with a way that you can effectively work together. You may be surprised by how much they may appreciate that.

You can also learn from how your colleagues handle situations. Suppose you are more introverted and struggle to stand up for yourself when challenged by your colleagues. In that case, you may benefit from observing how your colleagues hold their ground in similar situations. You can then decide for yourself if the assertive techniques they use are also something you can adopt.  

Don’t Take Things Personally

One of the most important things you can do at work is learning not to take things personally. When stressed, people often take out their frustrations on others around them.

We live in a world where people sometimes fail to show respect toward one another and their relationships with others. If someone disrespects you (or others), take note – then move on. You may surprise by how much ignoring the other individual may add to your peace of mind. Don’t let your emotions get involved! 

Overcome the Fear of Confrontation

Not all conflicts are bad. Confrontation is a necessary part of working with people. However, there is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Be respectful, speak with clarity, and be firm. For example, if you feel that you are not being listened to, communicate that with your colleagues.

Refer to a specific time when you felt that your ideas were ignored. It is important to have uncomfortable conversations because that is the only way that change can happen. Be confident and stand your ground. It will get easier with time. 

Reconciliation with Your Colleagues

If you disagreed with a co-worker, make the first step towards reconciliation. Remember, nobody wins at an argument. Both parties lose. So go in with an open mind and listen to them. It may be tempting to defend yourself, but try not to interrupt them. Sometimes, people need to vent. Hear them out first, and then explain yourself calmly and with composure.

Remember, you and your colleague are on the same team and work towards solving the problem together. Keep your conversation focused on the present and future rather than dwelling on past events (no matter how much fun this might seem to be at first). Communicate clearly what you expect going forward and how you want to work together. Make sure you are on the same page and aligned with each other’s priorities. This way, you will be set up for success. 


Workplace relationships can be challenging, but they can also help you grow as a professional.

However, don’t expect things to change overnight. Managing your relationships is a skill that takes time and effort. Some of the most common problems in workplace relationships are caused by misunderstandings or miscommunication. The key is to keep an open mind and practice empathy, and you will be able to solve these issues before they even arise!


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