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Have you ever experienced a scenario like this: you are going above and beyond what is expected of you and you don’t even get a little ‘thank you’ or a ‘great work!’  In actual fact … you are ignored and not acknowledged. So, you work harder and put in the extra miles, in the hope that you get a glance or a pat on the back. Nope! It’s almost like you make it worse for yourself. The more you put in, the more that is expected of you. And … if only you were appreciated a little, you wouldn’t mind.

Personal relationships are full of give and take. But at work? Do the same principles apply?

There’s a certain kind of etiquette – various protocols especially when taking on tough topics with a superior tend to make us think that it is harder for work relationships to be restored to a place of health? And sadly, in many cases, people who don’t feel valued or appreciated just end up not facing the situation – they leave and say nothing at all.

Victim mentality

But the good news is that these relationship issues can be fixed, but it does take compromise – a willingness to stand up and ask for what you want and need.

Every day is a new beginning

How we do anything is how we do everything … therefore, there are no small or insignificant areas of your life where it’s okay to simply accept things we’re not happy with, or, conversely, act poorly. If our attitude is of arrogance, a sense of entitlement, recklessness and competitiveness, then guess what? It’s unlikely that we will leave these behaviours at work when we get home.

Living in all the areas of work and life in a manner that reflects how you would like to be treated in your relationships is a ‘significant’ part of how you should go about your own engagement with others.

Pause for effect

This is where it can be really helpful to pause – we all get into scenarios – victims/perpetrators, submissives/aggressors, and weaklings/dominators. Doesn’t matter what label you put on it, you know which role you tend to play …

But taking a moment, and giving yourself a chance to pause before you react or speak your mind is a great habit to cultivate. Because we all have a tendency to get stressed and bad tempered and we have buttons that people ‘push’ even when they have no idea they are doing it. Responding is far more powerful and productive than reacting and when you can catch yourself and switch your communication mid-steam, you can see how beneficial it is to avoid the argument and opt instead for a healthy, productive discussion about the matter at hand.

Therefore, one of the ways to strengthen your relationships at work is to engage in behaviours that build, not destroy, your self-respect and self-esteem, to be self-supporting rather than self-sabotaging.

Another powerful tool is to look at everything as though you are seeing it for the first time or the last time … your behaviour changes quickly and effortlessly. We all have stories but when we think this way, it releases the baggage and allows positive relationships to flourish.

Watch how you communicate

So if you are giving yourself pause for thought and approaching your relationships with a different frame of mind, then it is also important to think about the way you communicate.

Starting a sentence with words like ‘you should’, ‘you shouldn’t’, ‘you can’t’, ‘you always’, or ‘you never’ …  is a quick way to get the listener to shut down and tend to invite defensiveness in their response. Instead leading with statements like ‘I could be wrong’ or ‘I have a little concern’ … coming from a caring place will make it easier for the listener be open to hearing what you have to say, rather than already composing their defense while you’re still making your point.

Relationships are never straightforward

If you have invested a fair amount of time in the workforce, you certainly have had an experience of a damaged professional relationship behind you. But the interesting thing is that when we focus on another person’s downside, we start to unconsciously behave in ways that exacerbate it.

The fact is, as your Mother might have told you – is that two wrongs don’t make it right. To get anywhere, you have to understand your role in the situation. Remember that perception is projection!

You have the power to decide you are going to improve this relationship .We often ‘label’ our relationship – for example ‘she doesn’t listen!’ or ‘he is a control freak!’ and all this achieves is it keeps you STUCK!

By understanding the dynamics of the relationship and making changes you can reach some very positive results.