Interpersonal Relationship at Workplace


Interpersonal Relationship at Workplace

 Human beings need company most when they are afraid, anxious, or unsure of themselves and want to compare their feelings with those of others. Relationships help people to confirm and validate their ideas and feelings as well as to value themselves.

Employees like common people are also social animals. They seek the company of others. An employee feels secure when there is a company of a co-employee, and he feels anxious when that co-employee is absent. This desire for human contact can be thought of as a two-pronged need; the need for attachment and the need for affiliation. These are two distinct, yet interrelated needs.

  • Attachment – It is the need to form special close relationships
  • Affiliation – It is the need to be with other people in general – a sense of belonging to a larger group.

A strong association between employees working together in the same organization is called interpersonal relationship. Employees must get along well for a positive and healthy work environment at the workplace.

An employee spends around eight hours at his workplace and it is practically not possible for him to work all alone. He needs co-employee to talk to and discuss various issues at the workplace. It is a common fact that the productivity increases manifold when employees work together in groups as compared to an individual employee working alone.

Interpersonal relationship at workplace is nothing but close relationship between two employees working at the same place. Interpersonal relationships require good effort from the employees to nurture and maintain. A healthy interpersonal relationship gives an employee the most joy and satisfaction.

An interpersonal relationship is an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring. This association may be based on inference, affection, solidarity, regular interactions, or some other type of social commitment. Interpersonal relationships are formed in the context of social, cultural and other influences.

The interpersonal relationship that an employee develops at his workplace is a key to his career and job success. If he gets along harmoniously with his coworkers and shares a special bond with them, then the positive interpersonal relationship that develops fuels his work achievement, happiness, and success. Hence it is very essential that each and every employee must develop an effective interpersonal relationship with his co-employees at his workplace. For developing a positive and healthy interpersonal relationship the following aspects are important.

  • The workplace behaviour should follow the ethics of the workplace. It should be essential that the behaviour is professional at the work. For a good interpersonal relationship employee must not misbehave with any of his colleagues. There should not be any leg pulling, criticism or backbiting. It is better to avoid a co-employee if anything is not liked in him instead fighting or arguing with him. Workplace colleagues can be friends as well but one must know where to draw the line. Too much of friendship is harmful and spoils relationship among employees.
  • An employee must not interfere in his colleague’s work. For this it is necessary that job responsibilities between two employees do not overlap. Overlapping of job responsibility leads to employees interfering in each other’s tasks and eventually fighting over small issues. One should be concerned only with his work rather than trying to find out what the other employee is up to.
  • Provision of space to the co-employee is essential for a healthy interpersonal relationship. Overhearing the conversation of the co-employee is strictly unprofessional. An employee must not open envelopes or letters not meant for him. Such practices lead to severe displeasure among employees and eventually spoil relationships.
  • Rumours are the biggest enemy for a healthy and an effective interpersonal relationship. An employee must not believe in any rumours nor does he contribute to spreading of rumours at the workplace. It is always better to discuss the things with the co-employee in private rather than publicizing the thing.
  • If some information is required to be shared with any of the co-employee then it is to be ensured that it is shared in its desired form. Data tampering and playing with information spoil relationships among colleagues and lead to confusions at the workplace.
  • It is essential that any confidential information is not shared with the co- employees. One never knows when it can get misused, sometimes even unintentionally. Employee must not trust his co-employee blindly.
  • There is no place for ego in interpersonal relationship and hence ego should be kept away at a distance. Personal tensions should not be brought to the work.  An employee should think before he speaks. Making fun of co-employees is something which is not at all expected since it can create serious fissures in the relationships.
  • For a healthy and effective interpersonal relationship, employees must stay away from the politics at workplace. It is necessary to support co-employee when he is under pressure or he is in any problem. Also his good work is to be appreciated so that he gets encouragement and gets further motivated. One must not be jealous with the co employee. Jealousy always harm in the long run. There should be healthy competition among the employees for a healthy environment at the workplace.

 Factors affecting interpersonal relationship

 The different factors which affect interpersonal relationship are given below.

  • Rapport – Rapport is good when an employee feel comfortable or at ease with the other employee. This can be automatic or it could take time to develop.
  • Empathy – It refers to the ability to see the environment through the eyes of co-employee, understanding his feelings and actions. Empathy is the foundation of good two way communication.
  • Trust – It means that an employee can depend on his co-employee. When the employee trust co-employee then he expects acceptance and support from him.
  • Compatibility – Two employees to have a healthy interpersonal relationship must be compatible with each other. There should be no scope of conflicts and misunderstandings in interpersonal relationship. It is easier to have a healthy interpersonal relationship between employees from similar backgrounds and similar goals. Employees with different aims, attitudes, thought processes find it difficult to adjust and hence fail to have a healthy interpersonal relationship.
  • Communication – Communication plays a pivotal role in a healthy and effective interpersonal relationship.  Feelings must be expressed and reciprocated in relationships. Employees need to communicate with each other effectively for better understanding. Lack of communication can lead to problem and misunderstanding. Staying in touch is essential for a relationship to grow. Effective communication helps in a better bonding. Sitting with co-employees and discussing different issues face to face helps in reaching mutually acceptable solutions. The recipient must understand what the sender intends to communicate and vice a versa. Clarity of thoughts is essential in relationships.
  • Respect – It involvesaccepting and appreciating the co employee.
  • Mental expectations – These are seen as relationships grow. Employees with healthy interpersonal relationship must have the same mutual expectations. The relationship must heads towards the same purpose or goals for both the employees.
  • Flexibility – Good interpersonal relationships are flexible and can adapt to change. Circumstances change and employees cannot always carry through on plans they have made together.
  • Honesty – Honesty is very important for a healthy and long lasting interpersonal relationship. Dishonesty leads to distrust which affects the efficiency at the work. Transparency is important in relationships.
  • Staying calm – Overreacting on any issue disrupts a healthy relationship. It is necessary to stay calm. It is better to be a little more adjusting. Saying sorry helps in the development of interpersonal relationship. It solves several issues.
  • Forgiving – Employees need to be a little more forgiving for having healthy interpersonal relationship. Any issues between the employees need not be drag unnecessarily. Fighting over small issues is foolish and makes the situation all the more worse.
  • Smile – Smile creates situation which helps solving many issues. A flash of smile can help an employee is coming out from and awkward situation. Hence during interaction with co –employees smile can be a good tool for having a positive interpersonal relationship.
  • Time – Every relationship needs time and effort to grow. Time plays an important role in relationships. Employees need to spend adequate time to know each other better. Employees must spend quality time with their co- employees to strengthen the bond amongst themselves. This helps in having a healthy and effective interpersonal relationship.

Interpersonal relationships are dynamic systems that change continuously during their existence. Like living organisms, relationships have a beginning, a lifespan, and an end. They grow and improve gradually, as employees get to know each other and become closer, or they gradually deteriorate as the employees drift apart.

As per Knapp’s model for interpersonal relationship, there are ten stages which consisted of (i) initiating, (ii) experimenting, (iii) intensifying, (iv) integrating, (v) bonding, (vi) differentiating, (vii) circumscribing, (viii) stagnating, (ix) avoiding, and (x) termination.

These ten stages can be grouped into three overlapping and integrated phases namely (i) the coming together phase, (ii) the relational maintenance phase, and (iii) the coming apart phase. These 10 stages and three phases are given in Fig 1

Stages in interpersonal relationship

Fig 1 Ten stages and three phases of interpersonal relationship