How do we create an enjoyable atmosphere on the work floor when faced with different genders, different belief systems and different generations? Research indicates that the best places to work are those where team members get along well. Such teams are more productive and report greater job satisfaction.

Three businesspeople, one female and two male, standing in a lobby of a business building, by the red column with a digital tablet and talking about something serious.

One of the biggest challenges to harmony can be communication, especially the casual conversations that happen among teams on the floor. Staff report a higher level of engagement and morale when daily interactions are cordial and respectful. Therefore, it’s imperative we define appropriate communication for our staff, to help prevent workplace discussions that might offend a co-worker and cause strain among our team members.

Consider holding a team discussion to outline what appropriate communication looks like. Some ideas for consideration are:

  • Acknowledge that a difference of opinion is OK, but team members should resist arguing. Arguments are often emotional and can end up in personal attacks. Team members should know that an immediate response is not necessary; they can take time to consider the issue and respond when they are able to set their emotions aside.
  • No complaining allowed! Legitimate concerns need to be presented to the person(s) that can effect change.
  • Conversations must be gender neutral.
  • Consider who is listening AND who is within earshot before sharing.
  • Ask yourself: Is there a point to sharing this information? Will sharing benefit my career or the quality of my relationship with my team members?
  • Know when the conversation is over and move on.
  • Ask if what you are about to share might bother your team members. Romantic relationships, religious convictions, medical problems may feel like a violation of emotional space and could evoke painful memories that a co-worker would prefer not to revisit at work.
  • Imagine overhearing the conversation you are about to have and how it might make you feel.

Relationships within your teams have a significant impact on productivity and job satisfaction. Encourage your team members to recognize each other for a job well done. Acknowledge that casual conversations are what build relationships within your team and can assist in reaching goals. Then define appropriate communication to ensure these conversations do not have the opposite effect.