Pivotage Consulting

Maintaining a Healthy Working Relationship with Colleagues

Chioma walks in with her usual air of entitlement and self-importance; and suddenly everyone else in the room becomes engrossed with one activity or the other in an obvious show of false engagement. The air in the room just got hotter and the sense of apprehension is palpable. It is difficult saying anything to or around Chioma, but it is even more difficult keeping quiet, so Chioma’s salutation is greeted with faces of rigidly parted lips and uneasy waves, with few words only being muttered by Chioma’s perceived close friends. Not long after, Chioma exits and everyone lets out a heavy breath as if they’ve all been holding it in all along.


Everyone knows Chioma; the self-righteous, opinionated, fault-finding, know-it-all, never-do-wrong, ‘I don’t care what you think or feel’ mouthy-‘always-wants-to-be-heard’ colleague; who though almost at same level with everyone displays a self-assumed sense of superiority simply because she’s one of the oldest in the firm. The one person in the office with whom a simple conversation is a one-way street, and every dissenting opinion is an affront on her wealth of knowledge and experience. It is a constant wonder to many of her colleagues how she could live in such oblivion as to the impact of her attitude on others or was she just consciously and purposely unpleasant.


Then there is Kelvin, he joined the company just a few months ago. Kelvin immediately got to know the office staff and interacted well with senior management. After just one month he was promoted to a supervisory position, and rumor has it he is on the fast track to becoming a manager for another office.


While Kelvin is known as a celebrated humour merchant and a willing helper for everyone with a need, which further makes him an accessible and readily available solution for every challenge. Chioma on the other hand is known as the ‘toxic queen’ whose satisfaction is primal to everything else and sometimes comes with at the expense of the happiness of others. Also, while Kelvin is known as a bridge builder across situations, Chioma is a dead end to everything and anything that does not conform to her expectations and preference. Between Chioma and Kelvin, the difference lies in Kelvin’s empathy and genuine desire to be helpful while Chioma on the other hand covets opportunities to assert her importance with the sole aim of drawing attention to herself. Kelvin’s personality encourages the fostering of a healthy work environment which improves morale and boosts productivity, while Chioma’s personality encourages toxic, festering and stifling work environment which makes for low productivity.


Arguably, a healthy work culture which is developed through healthy interpersonal relations with fellow colleagues in the work place is a key ingredient to employee engagement, motivation and overall productivity at both individual and group levels. This is not to say that everyone in an organisation must develop a natural liking for each other, however, there must be key attributes which must feature in everyone’s character and behaviour around the work place especially towards colleagues to promote a healthy co-existence and make for high productive interaction between and among employees.

Given the amount of time spent at work (8 to 9 hours), which is suggestive that most part of our lives revolve around the work environment. It is only imperative that we cultivate attitudes that promote cordiality and freedom of expression. To make this easier, theirs is a need to imbibe adequate emotional intelligence in interacting with people everywhere, but especially in the work place.

It’s important that everyone feels comfortable with the dynamics of communication in the workplace.  All workers should be able to express their thoughts and feelings and feel safe doing so. It’s important to remain non-judgmental and non-confrontational when speaking with your colleagues. This will create an environment where employees are encouraged to talk to each other about any issues that come up so that they can be handled quickly and efficiently, without anyone feel uncomfortable addressing these things. This will also cut back on workplace gossip as employees will be more likely to address issues that come up as they happen rather than complaining or gossiping to others about it. But how do you build relationships with co-workers to begin with? Here are five ways:


The number one word to remember is ‘respect’, the most basic, yet effective, means of establishing good relationships. Treat everyone, from the newest staff member to the most senior, with the same courtesy as you would expect to receive from them.


Communicate with others honestly and professionally. Convey your opinions and concerns while listening to other points of view. Nobody appreciates a ‘know-it- all’ attitude. Try not to interrupt people in conversation or meetings, and never put them down in an arrogant fashion. Showing initiative is a great thing, but it needs to be used by including others and receiving their support. Remember the art of good communication means listening as much as speaking.

  1. BE A ‘GIVER’

Always be ready to help your colleagues. This is most appreciated, and you are likely to be helped in return. Thinking about the needs of others, instead of our worrying about your own, will always assist in building more successful relationships.


Hanging out solely with one group, workmates in the immediate vicinity, those on your classification level, your own age group, or any other special interest group will be perceived as excluding others. Branching out and including all groups is good practice. This way you won’t be alienating anyone and will be welcome in a range of situations.


This can be achieved readily by always fulfilling your responsibilities and delivering on time. Your timely output affects others in the workplace. If unforeseen circumstances prevent you completing a project on time, then communicate this immediately and provide supporting reasons.

There are so many reasons why investing time into building a healthy relationship with colleagues is extremely worthwhile. Good relationships help develop a confident workplace where the environment empowers you to deal comfortably with any potential stressful situations.If you are happier at work, you will be happier outside of work, so the benefits are endless.