In giving thought to the relationships that you seek and maintain in life, consider what makes your interactions healthy, productive, and, at times, challenging. Building positive relationships, including those at home, work, and in the community, may warrant renewed effort and focus.

Difficult interactions can increase our stress and zap our creative energy; whereas, healthy relationships are at the core of achieving goals. To foster positive interaction with your co-workers, and create an environment of respect, take heart to the following guidelines for good communication:

Sharpen your listening skills.

  • Focus on what the person is saying without interrupting. Most of us tend to be thinking about what we are going to say next and end up missing half of what the other person is saying.
  • When the person you are listening to has finished what he or she is saying, confirm that you received the intended message by briefly paraphrasing what you heard.
  • Be mindful of your body language. Keep an open, relaxed posture without crossing your arms or legs. Lean forward slightly, without invading the other person’s personal space, and maintain comfortable eye contact.

Convey your thoughts clearly and effectively.

  • Be honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish, and then state that intent clearly. Ask yourself, “What do I ultimately hope to accomplish with this conversation?”
  • Avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm by definition states the opposite of what we really mean. While sarcasm can be a part of a humorous, casual dialogue, it does not foster clear communication and can put people on the defensive.
  • Be aware of your tone of voice and what it may be conveying to the other person.
  • Email may be an effective mode of communication, but it is not appropriate for all messages. Take the conversation off-line, and in person, especially when it feels like you are not connecting or if correspondence has become emotional.

Be a team player.

  • If you see that a coworker needs help, if at all possible, pitch in and help out. Share your strengths with your co-workers and ask for support on tasks that you are less skilled at.
  • Be courteous. Be aware of the volume of your conversations, be on time, and keep common areas clean and useable.

Sometimes disagreements or tense situations arise. Address conflict as soon as possible to prevent small miscommunications from becoming major problems. If you are worried or unclear about something, ask for clarification.

Show flexibility and openness to others’ views. Consider the relative importance of the topic or decision before you take the conversation to the next level. Even if you differ with someone’s position, actively appreciate the person.

Sources: Washington and Shady GroveAdventistHospitals. For additional information, consult your physician.