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Five ways to remove barriers in the workplace

While nobody expects us to be best friends with every single one of our work colleagues, having positive relationships in the workplace can boost teamwork and make our jobs more enjoyable. Here, CABA, the Chartered Accountants Benevolence Association, sets out some simple steps to creating a better working environment.


August 2019

A recent British Heart Foundation survey suggests that many socially awkward situations at work are the result of not knowing our colleagues as well as we maybe should. Breaking down these barriers isn’t just good for a comfortable working atmosphere; it can be good for productivity and boost teamwork.

So here are five ways you can build better relationships with your fellow workers:

1. Be a good listener

Being a good listener is an important communication skill, so practice saying less and listening more. Let your work colleagues speak without interrupting them. Repeat some of their points back to show you’ve taken in what they’ve said. Chatting can help break the ice with a co-worker and put them at ease.

2. Socialise outside the office

Aim to socialise with them now and then in a non-office environment. Many people find it easier to relax and open up more in a social setting, and they will no doubt appreciate you for making the effort.

3. Venture outside your department

Try to mix with people working in different departments as it can help you get to know them better and gain a better understanding of the organisation as a whole. So next time you see someone from another part of the organisation whom you haven’t met before, why not approach them and say hello?

4. Tackle conflicts sooner rather than later

Like any other environment where different people come together from different backgrounds and opinions, offices can be breeding grounds for arguments and upsets. If you find yourself involved in a conflict with a work colleague, don’t let the situation simmer. Arrange to discuss the issue with your colleague as soon as possible. Keep the conversation professional. At the least you may agree to disagree – but that’s preferable to ignoring the situation until it gets out of hand.

5. Be respectful at all times

Be pleasant and polite at the office and respect your colleagues’ views, even if you don’t agree with them. An office where people respect each other will often be more productive and effective than one where there’s lots of gossip and negativity, not to mention a more enjoyable place to work.

How CABA can help: CABA provides lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students and their close families. All their services are free, impartial and strictly confidential.

For advice and information call CABA on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email enquiries@caba.org.uk or visit caba.org.uk

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