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Building positive workplace relationships for your mental health

February 5, 2024
Dan Kearsley

Whether we like it or not, work plays a big part in our lives. During the working week, most of us spend over seven hours a day at work (not to mention the time spent commuting and working after-hours), so it’s important that our working environment is one that feels comfortable and supportive.

In fact, a recent Glassdoor survey found that an employer’s company culture and values has the biggest impact on employee satisfaction, even more so than salary. This just goes to show that while salary is certainly a factor in how we feel about work, creating a positive work environment that supports people’s wellbeing shouldn't be undervalued.

Positive work relationships play into a company’s culture, because good relationships with our colleagues can make work more enjoyable. When we feel supported and accepted by our co-workers, we feel more confident and empowered to speak up and put forward our ideas, without fear of judgement.

The more that we can collaborate with our colleagues, the more that we feel as though we’re all ‘in it together’, which boosts morale, motivates us and encourages us to support each other. It also creates opportunities for development, which gives us a sense of purpose and direction so that we feel more fulfilled in our roles.

What does a healthy work relationship look like?

  • You feel respected
  • You can trust and talk to your co-workers
  • You feel included and involved in projects
  • You feel as though your ideas are valued and listened to  
  • You have clear communication

How to build positive relationships  

  1. Communication

Communication is the foundation of a good relationship. Being honest and up-front with people in a considerate manner helps to build trust, while communicating clearly keeps everyone in the loop so that they know what’s expected of them. When people are unsure what they should be doing, this can cause negative feelings, like frustration and confusion.

Another important aspect of good communication is mindful listening. Encourage people around you to put forward their ideas and share their experiences without interruption, then take time to discuss them and understand their point of view.

  1. Recognition

A ‘well done’ goes a long way. When you’re working on project after project, it’s easy to forget to stop and recognise people for the work they’ve completed. However, praise can help people to feel valued, motivated and heard, no matter how senior their role is. When we aren’t recognised for our contributions it can be hurtful, or lead us to question our worth, which has a negative impact on our wellbeing.

  1. Compassion

At the end of the day, we’re all only human. Sometimes we make mistakes or life gets in the way. When this happens, it’s important to show people compassion and try to put yourself in their shoes. Usually, people will remember the kindness you showed them and respect you more for it.

  1. Boundaries

Boundaries are a way of establishing our needs and setting clear expectations of ourselves. At work, you may find setting boundaries helpful when you’re being given more tasks than you can comfortably manage, or if you’ve been asked to work on something that’s not in your remit.

Although communicating your boundaries might be daunting to begin with, if we don’t push back, it could have a negative impact on our wellbeing, or, we may become resentful towards others, which won’t do our work relationships any favours. Read more about boundaries here.

  1. Self-awareness

When you’re in a social situation, it’s important to be aware of how you’re coming across and how those around you are feeling. Sometimes, people may not be up-front about their feelings, but nonverbal cues can tell us a lot - do they look down, withdrawn, nervous or uncomfortable? If so, could you pull them aside and ask what you can do to support them? Showing that you care and are willing to listen could help the situation, whether it’s to do with their work life or home life.

  1. Team building

Team building days can be a great way to bond with your co-workers. They don’t necessarily have to be focused around work - they could be an activity, a quiz or just getting together for a cup of tea and a chat every now and then. Getting to know your colleagues better will help you to feel closer to them, and the better you get along, the better you can work together.  

ieso offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and OCD. Patients can login from wherever they are and ‘speak’ with a therapist by typing back and forth. Our service is free for some NHS patients. Sign up to see if you’re eligible here.

ieso Online Therapy
This blog has been written by a member of the clinical team at ieso.

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