Your Colleagues are People Too

People. So much of what makes a workplace great or difficult are the people. We spend a lot of time with the people we work with. And it’s the people who make up your company that set the culture and tone of your business. In no small part they impact whether your team enjoys coming to work each day, whether your clients are satisfied, and their morale impacts the business’ productivity.

As leaders of businesses and organizations, each day we have opportunities before us to change the tone in our company’s culture. We can build up those around us and contribute positively to the company culture, or tear them down and negatively impact morale. In a Harvard Business Review article, The Benefits of Saying Nice Things About Your Colleagues, the authors suggest how we “narrate others” can make a significant impact in how our colleagues feel about both themselves and their work. According to the article, research demonstrates the stories we hear others share about our contributions can help us find purpose in our relationships with our coworkers and our work.

The article provides some poignant examples of how we can “narrate” our coworkers as we go about our work:

  • Create positive first impressions – use introductions as a way to positively narrate your colleagues highlighting details and distinct characteristics
  • Communicate the value that each team member brings to the team – this is especially important when you bring together a new team
  • Describe your colleagues positively if they are socially undermined – when a coworker is being interrupted, silenced, or fighting for the opportunity to be heard you have the opportunity to build them up by talking about them positively
  • Use endings and exits to craft a positive portrait of colleagues

Words are incredibly powerful tools we have that can be used for good or for ill. Honest feedback is important for growth. We’re not talking about the skirting of honest feedback, but rather the power of thoughtful well spoken words. Not for flattery, but for substantive encouragement that can serve as a great catalyst for meaning in relationships, work and life. That sense of meaning and purpose in relationship and work, in turn helps create a culture where your team wants to come to work. As we finish the week, let’s choose to build up those around us through our words, narrating our colleagues positively before others – and seeing what happens in our teams.

About the Author
Hilary Tricerri is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our Grants practice. To get in touch with Hilary, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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