When I started my first job, I was anxious that I might not get along with coworkers, bosses and clients. I knew I was the face of the company to the people I did business with, so I had to be professional, knowledgeable, courteous and helpful to clients.
I consulted business news articles for tips on how to avoid damaging and repair business relationships. Here is some lifehack advice for college students to conduct themselves in a business environment.
First, recognize there is a problem
Before you can repair a relationship, you have to realize when something is wrong with the relationship you have. Negative comments, inappropriate attention and even lack of involvement can spur strained relations with colleagues or clients. “Some signs are quite obvious,” noted Stephanie Shirley at Bennis Public Relations Inc. in “How to Repair a Broken Business Relationship,” October 28, 2013. “Other signs present themselves passive aggressively and require a keener sense to identify. For example, a lag in response time, short answers or an overly negative tone are passive aggressive signs of strained business communication. If any of these signs persist for a period of time or cannot be explained by another life event, it’s time to address the situation,” said Shirley.
Reconcile with business clients
If you’ve created animosity with a client, it will take some effort to repair that. One good turn is not enough to repair one bad issue. Honesty is a great place to start. Own up to your mistake but also offer solutions. Offer the client a discount or extra help finishing a project. Promise that clients will have no further problems with your company. Provide them with positive experiences several times in a row so they come to think of the problem as an aberration, not the norm.
Getting along with colleagues
Back in the office or work site, you need a harmonious relationship with your coworkers. Try to avoid altercations to begin with, but if a problem arises, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t think you have to hide from or ignore the person you disagree with. The more professional thing to do is to repair your relationship, start over and create a functioning business environment.
An extra lifehack from business news articles: Don’t demonize your colleague—it takes two to argue. You had something to do with the altercation too. In “How to Repair a Damaged Professional Relationship,” posted in Harvard Business Review June 5, 2014, Dorie Clark advised to recognize your own culpability. Diana McLain Smith, author of The Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations, explained to Clark: “You may be focusing on another person’s downside—and then starting to behave in ways that exacerbate it.” For example, Clark elaborated, “if you think your colleague is too quiet, you may be filling up the airtime in meetings, which encourages them to become even quieter.” Clark said: “To get anywhere, you have to understand your role in the situation.”
Avoid bad relationships in the first place
The best scenario is that no one experiences trouble in the workplace at all. Always be professional and attentive to problem areas so you can avoid them. If a problem in miscommunication or rushing to judgment arises, address it immediately so it doesn’t grow and fester. Temporary fixes in the workplace can help, but don’t depend on them. Erick Lauber, psychologist and faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, wrote in “Heal broken relationships before they fester” in Seattle Business Magazine “The proper temporary aids, like having a third co-worker present, or alerting a boss to keep things operating smoothly, is allowable—but only temporarily, and only in extreme situations.” Lauber suggested exercising often your new skills at negotiating, trusting coworkers, not taking slights so personally and also not dwelling on the problems but finding solutions.
What are some other ways you can repair relationships at work or with clients? How can you apply these tips now as college students?