Happy Friday! In today’s posting on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we would like to share a list of suggestions from Dr. Gottman for building better emotional connections in coworker relationships.  Turning towards your peers in these informal ways is likely to make a huge difference, both in your work environment and in the way you feel about your colleagues, which will ultimately increase your productivity and efficiency as an employee!

Bidding and responding to bids for emotional connection is probably not an explicit requirement of your job description. And yet, if you work with other people, you undoubtably need these skills to form effective relationships with your coworkers. Much of the work of emotional connection happens in informal ways, in the way we talk with one another as we congregate around the coffeepot or share information before the meeting starts. 

Things to do for your coworkers: 

  • When you go for a snack or a cup of coffee, offer to bring something back for someone else.
  • Say hello when entering the office and goodbye when leaving the office every day.
  • Share information that’s vital to both your jobs.
  • Turn away from your work and look at the person who’s talking to you.
  • Say thank you.
  • Return favors.
  • Return things you borrow.
  • Minimize distractions so your coworkers can concentrate.
  • Turn down music if someone asks.
  • Refrain from wearing perfume/cologne if someone is allergic to it.
  • Look for things to appreciate in others, creating a climate of appreciation on the job.
  • Remember his or her birthday with an email or card.
  • Send a note of praise to your coworker’s boss acknowledging a job well done.
  • Offer similar praise at staff meetings for hardworking peers.
  • Notice photos, signs, posters, and other personal expressions in your coworker’s environment. Ask about them. Listen.
  • Decorate your own environment with things that matter to you, if possible. Let this be a way of helping others to get to know you.
  • Take photos at work just for fun, and post them, if possible and appropriate. Make copies for the people who appear in photos, or tag them on Facebook!
  • Ask your coworker why he or she chose this job. Listen.
  • Ask your coworker about his or her goals and aspirations. Listen.
  • Remember personal things about your coworker and refer to these in future conversations.
  • If you have resolved a conflict, recall the resolution in the future.
  • Pay attention to your coworker’s special interests and needs. Honor them.

Feel free to share this list with your employees, team members, and supervisors. Try a few of these activities and check back in a few weeks to see how they pay off, and make sure to pick up a copy of Dr. Gottman’s  The Relationship Cure to find many more helpful tips, tools, and activities for strengthening your professional relationships.

Source: Gottman, John M., and Joan DeClaire. The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Relationships. New York: Crown, 2001. 290-306.


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Weekend Homework Assignment: Turn Toward Your Coworkers
Ellie Lisitsa

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.