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6 ways to remove barriers in the workplace

Written by: CABA
Published on: 1 Apr 2019


A recent British Heart Foundation survey suggested that a large number of socially awkward situations at work are the result of not knowing our colleagues well enough.  

Breaking down these barriers isn’t just good for the workplace atmosphere, it can be good for overall employee wellbeing and productivity too. 

While nobody expects you to be best friends with every single one of your work colleagues, having positive relationships in the workplace boosts teamwork and makes your job more enjoyable.  

Just being more aware of what your work colleagues do in their roles can improve your understanding of what they may need from you, helping you work together more effectively and ultimately make friends at work.

Here are 6 Ways you can build better relationships and remove workplace barriers 

1. Be a good listener 

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re trying to get your opinion across. But being a good listener is just as important when communicating at work. Try saying less and listening more. Let your work colleagues have their say without interrupting them. If you want them to know you’ve taken in what they’ve been talking about, try to repeat some of their points back to them and ask follow up questions. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up or only make yourself heard if you have something important to say. In fact, office small talk helps break the ice with a co-worker you may not know very well, putting both you and them at ease. 

2. Socialise outside of the office 

If you’re rushing home at the end of the day when work colleagues organise drinks or a similar get-together, you’re missing out. You don’t have to go out partying with them every night – just aim to socialise every now and then in a non-office environment.  

Many people find it easier to relax and open up in a social setting, they will no doubt appreciate you for making the effort. 

3. Venture outside of your department 

Most people will know the people they work most closely with to some extent. But what about your co-workers in the rest of the company? It’s a good idea to try to mix with people working in different departments as it helps you to get a better understanding of the organisation as a whole. So next time you see someone from another part of the organisation who you’ve never met, why not approach them and say hello? 

4. Tackle conflicts sooner rather than later 

Like any other environment where people come together from different backgrounds, office environments can facilitate arguments and disputes. 

If you find yourself involved in a conflict then try not to let the situation simmer. Arrange to discuss the issue with the colleague in question as soon as possible keeping things professional. At the very least you may agree to disagree – but that’s an acceptable outcome.  

5. Be prepared to compromise  

Compromising is a key life skill, not just a skill for keeping office harmony. There are many situations that we are faced with throughout our lives when we need to meet someone in the middle over an issue.  

In the workplace, this need could present itself in many forms. For example, sharing the workload effectively. If you have some spare time but a colleague is under pressure, compromise and share the work. This allows any additional pressure to be shared at manageable levels. Remember, if you help your colleague now there is a higher chance they will be there to help you, should you need it. 

6. Be respectful at all times 

Finally, remember to be pleasant and polite at the office by respecting your colleagues’ views – even if you don’t agree with them. An office where people are respectful of each other will be a more productive and enjoyable environment to work in than one filled with negativity.  


How CABA can help 

Everything we do at CABA is underpinned by our commitment to provide lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, past and present ICAEW staff and their close families. All of our services are free, impartial and strictly confidential. 

For advice and information call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email, complete our online form


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