Just like we need food and water to survive, oxygen to breathe, and Netflix/Disney+/Amazon Prime to waste our spare time on, relationships are crucial for our mental health and wellbeing. Being connected to others is how we survived as a species, and this need still runs deep in our biology. But it's not always easy when it comes to forging positive and healthy relationships, including with those at work.

Why are strong relationships good for us?

There are many mental health benefits to be gained from healthy relationships, such as lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem and feeling more connected. Having a strong support network gives us shoulders to lean on when we're going through tough times. On top of that, research suggests that having strong, healthy relationships with others benefits our physical health, boosts our immune system, and may even help us live longer. So it's win-win for you and the people you're friends with!

That sounds great, how do I maintain healthy relationships then?

Relationships require work and a lot of care in order to keep them healthy. And you've probably noticed that it's easy for misunderstandings to take place. We've all got our own unique history (and baggage!), so we're bound to see things in different ways to others.

Good communication is the key ingredient when it comes to healthy relationships whether romantic, platonic, or with those at work. Try not to tiptoe around what you're feeling or thinking as this will only lead to misunderstandings, and we've all seen enough sitcoms and movies to know that this never ends well for anyone.

Be clear, assertive, kind and respectful about what you have to say to others, while also making a real effort to understand and empathise with what others have to say. There's no need to be too defensive or angry whenever something gets tough. Whether it's at home or at work with your colleagues, just talk things out honestly and respectfully to try and understand what's going on and work out how you can overcome any issues together.

Communication and listening is key, got it. Anything else?

Oh there's plenty more you can do to encourage good working relationships, including:

  • Trust your colleagues - Trust is the foundation of every relationship, so if you can trust your team and others you work with to do the job they were hired to do, you can focus on your own work, which in turn leads to better morale in the workplace. This also means no gossiping - no need to drag in Mean Girls levels of messiness into the workplace.

  • Respect everyone - Everyone in your company has an important role to play, and even if you're not entirely sure what everyone does you should still respect them. It'll help you appreciate the people around you and cultivate a positive working environment.

  • Give credit and take responsibility - Always highlight the success of others, and show gratitude for what they do. This helps build confidence and boost morale for everyone, which in turn leads to stronger relationships. And in the same vein, always take responsibility whenever something isn't working; blaming others inevitably leads to a breakdown in trust, resulting in a negative working environment.

  • Get to know your colleagues - Getting to know each other helps us build stronger relationships, and helps us appreciate each other's unique strengths. Show interest in your colleagues, ask curious questions, grab a coffee or lunch together and try to find some shared interests. But don't push it if someone doesn't want to join in. Accepting each other's differences is also important in healthy relationships.

  • Stay positive - They say positivity is contagious and it really is. No one wants to work at a place where everyone is moping around, so bring that positive energy to the office instead!

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Information sourced from: Health Direct, Better Health, and Me and Work.

Image credit: Parks and Recreation

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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