12 Ways You Can Change the Dynamic at Work

We can't control the behavior of the people we work with but don't underestimate how much you can influence it.

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By John Boitnott

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While it is unrealistic you will wake up every morning bright eyed and bushy tailed, excited to go to work, it is realistic for employers to expect you to consistently put forth your best attitude, work and focus. Additionally, even if your work style is more introverted, nonverbal and verbal communication can be interpreted differently than you intend. In the workforce, it is imperative to bring positive energy into the office to build and maintain healthy interaction, otherwise your company may suffer the consequences.

A recent study led by Michigan State University (MSU) business scholars found employees are more motivated if they see eye to eye with their boss about where their relationship stands. An additional study led by MSU observed 280 employees and their employers' interactions and engagements, finding that when there was a discrepancy in the view of the quality of the relationship, it can hamper the actual work engagement and motivation.

You can argue there are so many responsibilities for both parties that it's not realistic to expect that an employer can have a great working relationship with each employee. To counter argue, as an employee, there's always more that can be done to improve the working relationship with colleagues and managers. Remembering that you are all working towards a common goal id beneficial. Here are some tips to help you relate to your boss and coworkers, even if you just don't like each other much.

1. Develop emotional intelligence.

Work on developing your own emotional intelligence. Do you know why you feel angry, sad or happy about the work you're doing or the office situation? By getting in tune with your own feelings, you can identify their sources. Does office policy irk you? Is the positivity of coworkers the main reason why you enjoy the office? This type of work can help you better relate to your boss or coworker.

Related: Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business

2. Blow off steam.

Instead of suppressing feelings, learning how to work out feelings, such as by talking it through with friends or blowing off steam at the gym, will help avoid a blow up with a colleague or employer.

3. Create positivity where you can.

Create situations for positive feelings. When approaching someone with a new idea, think of how the new idea or project will bring mutual gain. There is always a silver lining present, you may just have to look a little closer at the situation. If your manager has assigned you to complete what feels like a long stretch of mundane tasks, work hard to get it done and be happy about the chance to earn your stripes at the company. If that type of work isn't right for you, look for another job that is.

4. Keep other perspectives in mind.

While it can be hard to swallow your pride, dealing with a "difficult" co-worker or boss may be easier when you learn more about their life and working style. So you want them to be more interested in your work? Be more interested in what they are doing. Be an active listener and engage in (polite) office conversation.

5. Have good manners.

Before starting a conversation, ask if "this is a good time?" They may be in the middle of an important task.

6. Pay attention to nonverbal cues.

What's going on with your supervisor? Do they seem more on edge than usual? How are they responding? You can have have more "in the moment" conversations by providing good eye contact, giving personal space, paying attention to personal tone, volume, expression and stance.

Related: You Don't Say? Body Language Speaks Volumes More Than Words.

7. Monitor how stressed you are, as it affects everything else.

What signs of stress are you showing? Common symptoms include problems sleeping, fatigue, trouble concentrating, muscle tension, headache, social withdrawal, apathy, feeling irritable, depression or anxiety, stomach problems and/or use of alcohol or drugs to cope.

This has a huge effect on your work performance. When you stew, frown and/or grumble, it can make people walk on eggshells, making them worried they will get on your bad side.

8. Recognize why you are excessively stressed.

What's causing your excess stress? Some workers fear they will be laid off or are intimidated by work requirements. Others feel pressure to meet expectations even though that aren't happy with their job. Some employees face stress because they have to work overtime due to staff cutbacks.

9. Limit use of defense tactics when approaching conflicts

Limit confrontations. Not many positive outcomes can come from a confrontation when the other party feels attacked. Sincere flattery can go a long way. Think about the positive attributes of your manager and thank them for how they do right by you.

Before trying to settle a conflict, take the time to evaluate the problem. Is the small conflict really part of a larger issue? Direct attention to the problem at hand. Do not point fingers at others.

10. Keep communication lines open.

Both bosses and workers need to feel heard. By encouraging an environment where both parties feel comfortable sharing their views and concerns, this will limit unnecessary conflicts.

If an issue arises, deal with the matter at hand as soon as possible with the person in conflict. Limit going above your boss in the chain of command as this can lead to resentment or future clashes. You can approach an issue respectfully, while still getting your opinion across.

11. Break the habit of negative thinking.

This is easier said than done for many people. However, negative thinking can be a drainer. It zaps energy and motivation that can be more productively used for completing the day's work. Avoid negative thinking co-workers and praise yourself for small accomplishments.

12. Invest in good hygiene.

Daily grooming and hygiene shows one cares about their surroundings and work at hand. Poor personal hygiene can be alienating.

While you can't control everything in your work environment, you can control how you react to situations and proceed in managing workplace relations. When a not-so-stellar morning wreaks havoc on your mood, do you find yourself struggling to see eye to eye with coworkers and/or your employer more than you like? While this task is more common in the workforce than we would like to admit, we can all agree that keeping office relations cordial can be beneficial for all parties involved.

Related: Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and Your Career

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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