How do you know when all is not well with a co-worker or boss? You could just have a hunch that things are a bit off, or it could be more obvious if a project deadline has been missed or you were passed over on a promotion.
Regardless, rather than stewing about what might be wrong, it’s time to take decisive action by identifying the signs and addressing the problems before that workplace relationship becomes toxic.
Here are six tense scenarios and how to handle them:
Whether you uncover what the secrets are or not, the real issue is that there are secrets at all.
A workplace is never productive when there isn’t complete transparency and openness. No relationship can be truly authentic and flourish if there are secrets involved.
While your coworker may feel somewhat vulnerable by sharing information or concerns, doing so actually builds trust and emotional connections that inspire teamwork and motivate others.
Rather than feeling betrayed by the discovery that a coworker is harboring secrets, go to them and ask them to share.
No relationship does well when dishonesty abounds. There is no framework for trust when you discover someone has lied to you. It can undermine all future interactions with that coworker, including your confidence that they will do their share on an upcoming project or your boss will fulfill their promises.
If you find someone has lied to you at work, don’t let it fester. Instead, approach that person and ask them why they lied so you can work with them to heal the relationship and build the trust necessary to work together in the future.
You probably have experienced a taker at some point in your life. They are the ones that make everything all about them and what they want. For example, they ask for your help on a project, you give it, and they give nothing back—not even a "thank you."
Soon, resentment towards this person builds, teamwork falters, and projects fail. Making it clear that any help must be designed as a win-win situation if the workplace is to truly achieve success can change this selfish dynamic.
Often, workplaces morph into an environment of assimilation where everyone is expected to share the same opinions.
No one feels good when they realize they can no longer be straightforward with their ideas or opinions because they may be insulted, dismissed, or even fired for thinking differently.
If this is happening, you cannot give into the fear of what may happen. If anything, you need to keep exerting what makes you unique and most likely valuable to the organization. The rest will follow and you may even be rewarded for your forthrightness.
When you start to realize that the majority of conversations, emails, and exchanges with a coworker is negative, judgmental, and lacks any constructive advice or accolades, this is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, especially if you continue to let others speak to you this way.
This type of communication is not productive and only serves to demotivate. You need to tackle this type of communication immediately by either addressing it directly or continuing to respond in only a positive fashion. The term "kill them with kindness" actually works, and you could snuff out the negativity this way.
Because so many of us anchor our self-worth to our jobs, it is easy to feel devalued if you are working long hours with no recognition.
Talk to your superiors about your accomplishments and stand strong when noting your need for reward and recognition. Your employer knows you are valuable and they need to know that they will lose talent if they do not change their behavior.
Look for the signs and continue to put effort into enhancing your work relationships. Your work can keep these important relationships from going south while helping your organization meet its goals and objectives.
—Van Moody is an author and motivational speaker who advises people across America on the importance of maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships. His latest book, The People Factor, is a guide to establishing great relationships and ending unhealthy ones.