Tips for Meaningful Workplace Interactions.

Author:Beyer, Alisa
Position:Management & Careers

Shawn Achor and others have promoted building stronger social support networks. How do we do that? One way is to look at the effect that perceptions and surroundings have on our interactions.

The feeling of not fitting in at work is common, and while it's uncomfortable, it can be a timely opportunity for taking a deeper look at yourself and your surroundings--which can be a good thing. Ideally, we all want to feel that we belong, that we're valued, and that we're making a positive contribution to our workplace. But if you aren't identifying strongly with your co-workers, a productive way to tackle the issue is to examine your perceptions. This article will discuss the potential reasons for challenges people experience in building workplace connections. This article will share some tips for improving communication, being aware of our personal biases, and improving our sense of belonging.


Start by trying to understand, examine, and recognize how the mind works in relationship to our social interactions and the workplace. We are influenced by our values, prior knowledge, and social culture, all of which can affect our perceptions and interactions with others. For example, when you receive an e-mail after hours, you think your colleague expects an immediate answer, or you might assume they had some time and wanted to knock something off their to-do list. Or you might think your coworker doesn't have a good work-life balance. But if you know your coworker's personal values and work style, you'll have a better idea about whether they are committed to an upcoming deadline or if that's just their work style--which will give you a much better idea about how to handle the e-mail.

Our perceptions are filtered through our experiences, values, and cultures. These perceptual differences come to play in situations like interpreting what went on in a meeting. One person might be exhilarated by a frank and honest airing of issues, while a colleague sitting across the table might be unnerved by what they perceive as aggression. In both cases, it is worth being clear about what was perceived and how individuals are processing the information, and being clear and transparent in communication when there are perceptual differences.

We are also influenced by things we may not even be aware of bias, a phenomenon known as unconscious, or implicit, cognition. For example, when comparing two resumes, you might feel more strongly about person X...

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