The average full-time worker in America now spends over 40 hours per week on their jobs. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families…or so it seems at times. If you’re fortunate, your work peers feel like one big happy family. Or you may be thinking they feel like one big dysfunctional family. Knowing how to interact with people that may have differing opinions, personality traits, or opposing ideas is a key component of bringing positive change to your workplace.
When it comes to experiencing a better environment in the workplace the old Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror” comes to mind. You may know the words…if so, sing along:
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways…and no message could have been any clearer: If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
Interestingly, the best change starts from within ourselves! Here’s a list of ways you can start to make a positive change in your workplace and improve your professional work environment (adapted from this site).
11 Tips to Bring Positive Change to Your Workplace
Respect people’s differences. We all see life differently and everyone deserves to be respected no matter the view point.
Think positive. It is much easier to interact with a positive person than with someone that thrives on negativity. To put it another way, notice how you feel when you say “on a positive note…” If you filter your thoughts looking for the positive, it will show in your demeanor.
Acknowledge your co-workers. Greet each other with a smile and a friendly “Hello.” Simply acknowledge the other person in a positive manner. There will be an impact on that person’s day!
Listen. It is important to listen to understand rather than listening to reply or argue. With this in mind, give your full attention to the person you are engaging with. More than any other, this demonstrates genuine respect and appreciation.
Appreciate others. It takes every person doing their job to make your company successful. This is as simple as saying “thank you” and giving credit where credit is due.
Pitch in and help out. If a co-worker asks for assistance or needs help that you can give, give your best effort in helping them out.
Live up to your end of the job. Your employer has certain expectations of you so always give it your best effort. Try to be a problem solver over a problem observer. Ask for help or further training if needed. Comparatively, if you see someone struggling, consider what you can offer to help them become more successful. For example, pitch in and help out…see above.
Respect people’s time and priorities. Everyone in your workplace has a job to do. Before interrupting, ask if now is a good time. However, if time is limited (yours or theirs), focus on your most critical requests and keep it brief.
Be willing to admit your mistakes and apologize gracefully. Most importantly, take personal responsibility for your actions, then acknowledge any mistakes as an effort to alleviate any wrong-doing.
Invest in other parts of your life. Once work is done for the day, focus on other things like family, hobbies, self-care, exercise, etc. Interestingly, you will be your best at work when you find balance between work and life outside of work.
Understand that life on the job won’t always be perfect. There may be times that you have co-workers or bosses that you simply do not get along with. If you find that you are employing all of these tactics and you are unable to continue working in that environment then maybe a bigger change is in order. At that point, either talk with HR or begin to look for a new opportunity.
Change Takes Time
Remember that old adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? There’s a lot of truth there! When we intentionally take all of the above steps, it can be a real struggle for others to respond the way we hope. Be patient. Change is hard for people, but I truly believe that most people want the positive in their lives…they just may not be sure how to achieve it. Deep within our unconscious mind, we associate sameness with safety. Be consistent. Your consistency will demonstrate to others that change is possible and it may encourage them to take a step themselves. We have to live out the change we hope to see in others.
However, if you find that you continue to struggle with your ability to communicate with others or manage your own reactions to the people you work with then don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You are capable of bringing positive change to your workplace. Our therapists at Family Therapy Associates of Jacksonville can help you with your communication style, creating work/life balance and managing stress.