Move On From A Relationship Gone Sour At Work

Move on from a relationship gone sour

Move on from a relationship gone sour

Relationships are often difficult in all areas of life, not just at home. In fact, working relationships can be among the most difficult relationships of all. Working relationships between people can become frazzled especially with the problems that we face in the work place every day. The continual stresses and challenges can add up and cause pressure that leads to relationships going awry. This can lead to working relationships turning sour in some cases. In other cases, working relationships may be difficult from the get go. However, turning this around is important for effective functioning at work.

Having good relationships at work means that you will be more productive. That makes it important to try to turn negative relationships around into a more positive situation. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Amy Gallo (2014) suggests that it is often easier to simply ignore the problem and bury your head in the sand rather than dealing with a difficult problem head on. Commonly people will try to avoid the issue rather than end up in a confrontational situation. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.  And dealing with the situation can generate many benefits that make it worthwhile to address the problems.

Amy Gallo explains that there are different kinds of relationship problems. Some relationships are simply non-existent, and Gallo argues that this can occur when people are in a rut. These are called “over-competent” relationships, and in this situation often people do not get past a “Hi, how are you doing?” However, the other side of the poor relationship at work scale is characterised by people having continual problems with one another, with either one or both sides feeling as if they are walking on eggshells (Gallo, 2014). These relationships are classified as “over challenged”. Understanding exactly what is happening can help to enable the individuals in the poor working relationship to address the situation. Gallo argues that in some cases people do not share information with each other, or alternatively they keep track of the wrongs that the other has done.

Amy Gallo offers some steps that can be taken to put the working relationship back on course. One is losing the idea that you are always right. Gallo says:

“When you’re hooked on the idea that you’re right you can’t start to repair the relationship because the issue of who is at fault becomes a distraction”.

The advice given when you feel sure that the other person is wrong is to imagine that person with a sign on them that says “I am wrong”. This allows you to move forward, and lets you feel as if you are right without taking it out on the other person. Another good piece of advice offered up by Gallo is that people need to face the future rather than going over every problem that ever occurred and getting angry about it. Of course this advice is given for all kinds of relationships. The problem is that if you focus on the bad things that the person did in the past, in your eye, you will find that the issue grows and becomes more challenging to deal with. It is better to let the past go and focus on a positive and productive future.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gallo offers up empathy as another solution. Being able to see the other person’s point of view and understanding why that person feels that way is important to being able to build any kinds of relationships. Understanding what guides those feelings and perceptions in that person is helpful in being able to truly understand them. Additionally, getting away from each other’s territory in the office is also recommended as a way to break the ice. Indeed, Gallo suggests going for a coffee or out for lunch to discuss matters of mutual interest, such as a shared goal. This can help to break down some of the barriers that may exist as well as looking to the ways in which you might work more positively together in the future.

Finally, when working on rebuilding the relationship it is better to show people your intent than tell them. If they see that you are genuine and you do what you say you will, trust will start to build between the pair of you.

Additional resource : infographic on improving wellness at work

Infographic done by