When I was in couples therapy with my husband, I nearly died trying to force myself to listen to his ideas when I thought mine were better. But I realized that I had poor listening skills, and by dealing with my listening skills at home, I improved my listening skills at work.
We can learn how to build relationships at work by paying attention to research about how to build them at home.
For example, The Economist reports that men overestimate how attracted women are to them, and women underestimate how interested men are. This research comes from an article in Evolution and Human Behavior, and the conclusion is that the poor estimating is actually good for evolution, because men don’t miss opportunities to spread their DNA, and women make sure to mate with someone who will stick around.
I find that men and women do the same estimating at work, stereotypically speaking. Women try to make a good, solid connection with people, and men assume everyone wants to be their friend via (superficial) sports talk. This is why we read so much about how men are better at networking outside of work and women are better at consensus building at work. Understanding these tendencies can help you know how to expand your relationship skills at work.
Here’s another relationship study that makes me think of work: A good relationship hinges more on expressing joy from someone else’s good news than about how you react to their bad news. Benedict Carey writes in The New York Times that a slew of studies find that your reaction to someone’s good news is an opportunity to strengthen the realtionship. So don’t brush off your spouse when she has a good day at work, and the same goes for your co-worker’s good news — express enthusisam. (Thanks, Mercedes)
Finally, here’s a link my brother sent me, and I keep waiting for it to be relevant to a post, and it never is, but it sort of is today: The intersection of people to work with and people to have sex with – a diagram.