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5 Tips for Turning Stressful Employee Relationships Around

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This article comes from Entrepreneur.

5 Tips for Turning Stressful Employee Relationships Around

You may be the boss, but you can’t fire people simply because they stress you out. Personalities clash, even when everyone involved has good intentions. What can you do? One simple, incredibly powerful thing: Change your reaction. No entrepreneur is best friends with everyone on staff, but you don’t have to deal with dysfunctional work relationships, either. To turn them around, follow these five steps.

1. Cultivate compassion.

Whatever the nature of your frustrations with your employees, remember that they have lives outside of work. That irritable salesperson might have been kept awake all night by medical bills. Behind a single curt comment could be years of familial dysfunction. If a team member snaps at you unexpectedly, realize that the root issue may run much deeper. Even if you can’t guess at the cause, you can be compassionate. Resist the urge to retort. Ask the employee if there’s anything you can do to make his or her day better.

2. Find common ground.

One of the best ways to turn around a rocky relationship with an employee? Identify something you have in common. It could be a hobby like soccer, but it could also be a shared worldview. That way, if future interactions get tense, you can steer the other person back toward a safe topic and recalibrate the conversation.

3. Set (and gently enforce) boundaries.

If an employee who gets on your nerves asks if you’d like to grab a drink after work, are you obligated to go? Of course not. Stick up for yourself, but don’t be brash or dishonest. The way you communicate your boundaries is key. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to be around you for a moment more than I need to be” to the person who invited you out, provide a specific reason. “I’m sorry, but I don’t drink” works wonders if you’re truly a teetotaler. If not, something like, “No, thanks, I’m headed home to catch up on some things” is perfectly reasonable and polite.

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