Workplace Relations #2

In Workplace Relations #1, I spoke about the art of passive observation. How do you do it? 

As a start, find a few moments away from your smartphones and airpods – and use the time to connect with life and people

Daniel Goleman’s book Social Intelligence described technology as the “continuing invasion into our daily lives”: 

“… Our most potent exchanges occur with those people with whom we spend the greatest amount of time day in and day out, year after year – particularly those we care about the most.”

(Goleman, D. 2006. Social Intelligence, p.5. Random House Australia (Pty) Limited: Sydney, NSW.)

I used to spend at least 9 hours a day at work. I was paid for 8, so the extra hour was my own choice; it was spent engaging with staff and employees during the day. Why did I do this? 

Daniel Goleman again: 

“Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. 

 … our relationships mould not just our experience but our biology … nourishing relationships have a beneficial impact on our health, while toxic ones can act like poison in our bodies … science now tracks connections between the most stressful relationships and the operation of specific genes that regulate the immune system.”  

(Goleman, pp.4–5).

Eight hours … in an environment that was at times frustrating, infuriating, and which could sometimes make you physically sick. But did I want to get home mentally depleted and unable to sleep? NO! 

Thank goodness for Network 21 and the books they recommended – and also Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People which I highlighted in WR #1 last week. 

Getting along at work

Now here’s where I learnt how listening and observing are crucial for good work relationships: but you first need CLUES to put your new skills into practice. Here are some:

  • Do you know your colleagues’ football teams? Some wear their team colours on a Friday before a game, or on a Monday if their team wins. Mondays are the best time to hear about teams that won or lost!
  • Observe their photos. These may be of their partners, children, pets, travels or cars. They’re there. Have a look – you’ll inevitably hear conversations about them.
  • What’s their personality? Attitude? Trustability? This is the most obvious. If they are definitely “not your type”, stick to work-related chats, be polite, and always acknowledge their presence with a “Hi” or “Good morning” when you first see them, and “See you tomorrow!” when they leave. Keep doing it even if they don’t respond! 
  • What’s their work ethic? The really lazy ones don’t last anyway, so they quickly came off my list. Those who were younger and smarter helped me learn computer skills which I needed to get better at.
  • Physical Appearance? Is it sloppy? Dishevelled? Or are they smartly dressed, striding in with heads held high, looking immaculate? (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist adding that “overdressers” created much amusement in my payroll department – was there really a need for stilettos, bowties, or excessive bling??)  
  • Observe their health. Are they overweight? Do they carry an array of tumblers, protein shakes, and pre-packaged meals to the kitchen? Are they addicted to soft drinks, caffeine or nicotine? Are their desks laden with codeine, aspirin or other painkillers? Are they walking slowly, dragging their feet? And lastly do their eyes appear dull, sad and with dark rings? 
Get the picture??

Your clues tell a story – whether you discover them at the office or on a screen in WFH. 

Dealing with ‘those’ days & work upheavals …

Yes – those days when we’re frazzled. At such times, I’ve asked myself, “Why am I even here??” – and tempted to grab my bag and leave for good. Remember that while in this state, we cannot think clearly and should never make important decisions. A simple method I use to calm down is to picture myself smiling. 

Les Giblin in his long-established book says:

“It’s almost impossible to be worried or anxious while you’re smiling. A smile is relaxing. A smile shows confidence.”

(Giblin, L. [1956]. 1986. How To Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People, p.74. Prentice-Hall Inc.: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.)

My last 15 years at work saw a record number of restructures. There was huge uncertainty and pressure; morale was low, and no-one smiled. 

Next week, I’ll tell you how each clue gives you enough information to trigger a positive response with just a few words. 

For now, to use Giblin’s term, don’t forget your MAGIC SWITCH: a warm, sincere smile that will bring out a friendly feeling in the other person almost instantly! 

I know all of us have lovely smiles. Let’s use them more often. You’re sure to get one back!! 

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