Change Emotional Intelligence Employee Engagement Leadership Organisational Culture Personality Positivity Relationship Building

Building a positive culture in the workplace, Part 3

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing positive psychologist Martin Seligman’s PERMA Model, which was widely published in his influential 2011 book Flourish.

The PERMA Model represents five essential elements that must be in place for us to achieve lasting well-being. In terms of organisations and the workplace, these five elements additionally represent pillars that are the foundation of a positive culture and environment.

The first two pillars in Seligman’s Model are:

P: Positive Emotion (read the article on positive emotion here)


E: Engagement (read the article on engagement here).

Continuing with our series, we now move to the third pillar, which is:

R: Relationships.

Or, more specifically, Positive Relationships.

Human beings are social beings, which means that we crave healthy, empowering relationships the way we crave air, food, and water. Relationships are essential to our well-being. In fact, many studies have been conducted showing that people with a larger support network often outlive those without it by 22%!

Given how essential relationships are to our success and happiness, it makes sense to work toward improving our relationships at work as well, all toward the end goal of creating a more positive and productive culture.

After all, good working relationships mean:

  • More enjoyable work
  • More innovation and creativity (since we’re in a zone of ‘flow’ as opposed to a zone of conflict with others)
  • More collaboration
  • More focus on new ideas and opportunities (and less time wasted on conflict resolution and overcoming social problems).

Relationships take engagement and hard work, though, and they’re often strengthened only when we make an effort to connect with other people. So how can you make a more concerted effort of establishing healthy and happy relationships at the workplace?

Here are just 6 ways that can be incredibly effective.


Schedule Time to Build Relationships

Devote at least 20-30 minutes a day toward relationship building. This can look like a variety of things. Visit a colleague’s office during lunch, reply to people’s postings on LinkedIn, or ask a colleague out for a quick cup of coffee. These little interactions help build the foundation of positive and fruitful relationships.

Show Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated! It all goes back to validation. We thrive when we’re validated and when we feel that our contribution to the overall ‘big picture’ is well-received, it brings us a sense of well-being. Whenever you can, compliment the people around you when they do something well. This will foster positivity in the workplace and make people that much more committed to continually producing exceptional work.

Focus on Your EI

It’s always important to spend time developing your emotional intelligence (EI). The level of your emotional intelligence informs your ability to monitor your emotions as well as the emotions of others in addition to labeling emotions appropriately and using emotional information to guide your thinking and behaviour. People with higher EI have greater mental health and exemplary leadership skills. With a high EI, you can more easily manage relationships effectively to move people in a desired direction or redirect disruptive emotions when it comes to adapting to change. I’ve written a 4-part series on Emotional Intelligence and you can access all of the installments here.

Listen Actively

“Active listening is a communication technique used in counselling, training and conflict resolution, which requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.” Practice active listening when you talk to your customers and colleagues to limit misunderstanding and to build stronger and more open relationships.

Avoid Gossiping

Never gossip. Gossip, along with dreaded office politics, is an absolute relationship killer. If you’re experiencing conflict with someone in your group, it’s absolutely crucial that you speak with them directly about the problem. Gossiping about the situation with other colleagues will only exacerbate the situation. It will also cause mistrust and animosity between you.

Identify Your Relationship Needs

Take a hard look at your relationship needs. What you need from others? What do others need from you? Is there a disconnect between what you need and what you’re receiving or between what other needs and what you’re giving? Understanding these needs can be instrumental in building better relationships and opening the channels of communication between you and others.

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