Workplace Relationships

Please post about both prompts in at least one paragraph length total. – i.e. don’t just give me lists but explain in full sentences.

1. What is the difference between being friendly with peers at work and being friends with coworkers? How does your communication reflect such differences?

2. Think about the most skilled supervisor you know. Which aspects of this supervisor’s communication make him or her so competent? – Openness? Ability to explain things? Honesty? Listening skills? etc.

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Workplace Relationships



We spend a lot of our time at work even more so than with our friends or even family, so our professional lives are actually much more personal. When our work lives (communication and relationships) are satisfying, we achieve more professionally and feel happier at home.


Workplace relationships differ along 3 dimensions: status, intimacy, and choice.

  • most organizations are structured hierarchically in terms of position and power
  • relationships vary with intimacy: can be professional (strictly workplace concerns) to deeply personal
  • workplace relationships are defined by choice – the degree to which participants willingly engage in them
  • Workplace Culture
  • Organizational culture: organizations have culture that include unique traditions, values and distinct beliefs regarding how things are done and how people believe.
  • workplace rules: written down or clearly verbally communicated guidelines about behavior. Example: Employee conduct handbook
  • workplace values: beliefs people share about work performance, dedication to the organisation, coworker relationships. Example: Corporate responsibility to the environment
  • workplace norms: guidelines governing appropriate interpersonal communication and relationships. Example: how informal are you allowed to be vs following authority
  • workplace artifacts: the objects and structure that define the organization. Example: physical layout (offices or cubicles) or dress code

Workplace Networks

Organizational Networks – members linked through communication

  • The nature of the information that flows through them
  • The media or channels through which the information flows
  • The frequency and number of connections among people in a network (network density)
    • workplace cliques can emerge – “old boys” clique or “fast track” clique


Organizational Climates and Relationships

Just like communication climates, organizations have their own communication climate known as organizational climate.

  • Defensive climate – the environment is unfriendly, rigid, and unsupportive of workers’ professional and personal needs.
  • Supportive climate – the environment is warm, open, and supportive. Communication is is honest, collaborative, share credit, practice empathy, and encouragement.

Most organizations fall in between defensive and supportive.

Creating a Supportive Climate

  1. Encourage honest communication
  2. Adopt a flexible mindset
    • be open to others’ ideas, criticisms, and suggestions
    • examine your own ideas for weaknesses
    • Avoid using absolutes
  3. Collaborate rather than control
    • avoid trying to manipulate others, and instead ask for their ideas and perspectives.
  1. Describe challenges rather than assign blame
    • Talk about problems in neutral terms rather than pointing fingers
  2. Offer concern rather than profession detachment
  3. Emphasize equality – treating all with respect regardless of status


Maintaining Relationships

A positive perspective and upbeat communication with your peers help offset the stress and demands everyone faces in the workplace.

Positivity – communicating with your peers in a cheerful and optimistic fashion and doing unsolicited favors for them.

Openness – creating feelings of security and trust between you and your peers. This means following through on your promises, respecting confidences, and demonstrating honesty and integrity in both your personal and your professional behavior.

Assurances – help demonstrate your commitment to them (especially since “choice” is a key component to workplace relationships

Respect – treating people as whole human beings with unique qualities and do not strictly define each other as just coworkers.


Upward Communication – communication from subordinate to superiors

Goals is toward achieving influence – best upward communication type is Advocacy

Advocacy Steps
  1. Plan before you pitch
  2. Know why your supervisor should agree with you
  3. Tailor your message
  4. Know your supervisor’s knowledge
  5. Create coalitions before communicating (get others to support your position/idea)
  6. Competently articulate your message

Downward Communication – communication from someone in formal authority in the organization to subordinates

  1. Emphasize the importance of communication in workplace relationships – both informal and formal interactions
  2. Listen Empathically  – listen to suggestions and complaints and demonstrate a reasonable willingness to take fair and appropriate action in response to what they are saying
  3. When communicating wants and needs, frame them as polite requests
  4. Be sensitive to feelings – utilize privacy and perception checking
  5. Share relevant information whenever possible

Challenges of Downward Communication

  1. How to effectively praise subordinates – this is a top factor that motivates employees
    • Focus on the person’s work (achievements, expertise, attitude etc) and avoid complements about appearance
    • Present praise privately rather than publicly, except in formal contexts
  2. How to constructively criticism them
    • Use emotion management skills – remaining calm, kind and understanding throughout the exchange
    • Open with positive remarks and end with positive remarks
    • Follow guidelines for competent interpersonal communication and cooperative language – be informative, clearly identify the issues or behavior of concern, describing it neutrally
    • Strive to experience and express empathy
    • Spend most of your time on avoiding such missteps in the future rather than belaboring the error – offer specific ideas but as suggestions while asking for the person’s opinion


Interesting Video on Organizational Communication

Organizational Communication (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


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Last Updated on April 25, 2020 by