Creating goodwill at work
I was at a meeting recently where the presenter talked about the importance of creating “goodwill” in the workplace. Some work environments are healthy and positive, where employees and administrators feel supported. But many companies have a work atmosphere that is tense, negative, and unhealthy—even toxic. In these organizations, workers feel negative about their company. They find themselves complaining and feel disengaged. They don’t like going to work.
There are many factors that contribute to both a negative and positive work place. The culture of the organization has a big impact on everyone. Work place values, principles, and ways of working together have been co-created by both managers and staff over many years, sometimes decades. It is hard to change the culture of an organization.
The people at the top have a big influence on the tone at work. If they are supportive, positive, and good communicators (which also means being a good listener), these healthy traits trickle down to every level of the establishment. In wholesome companies, the supervisors take time to connect with employees at every level of the organization.
Even so, there are many conditions and circumstances that can contribute to work place stress. Negative changes in the overall economy, in the industry of the company, uncertainty, or rapid change can add more challenges for staff. These pressures can have a negative impact on workplace well being. As a psychologist, I am often asked to help work groups solve interpersonal and work effectiveness concerns. I have developed a few simple tools over the years that I have found to be helpful.
You only have control over your own behavior. The only person you can change is yourself. You can’t make your boss or co-worker into a different person. But you can be the person you want to be. How do you want to be? Do you want to be a negative “Nick” or do you want to be a positive “Pam”? It’s up to you.
Connect with everyone. When I come to work in the morning, I make a point of greeting everyone in my workspace, even if I have to track him or her down. At the end of the day, when I am ready to leave, I do the same thing. I want to give everyone a few moments of my full attention. I want to connect with each person. This is my way of letting others know that I think they’re important. Anyone can do this!
Let your co-workers know when they do something you appreciate. Whenever anyone in your world does something positive, let them know. Don’t keep it to yourself. Take a moment to acknowledge their contribution, no matter how small. We all thrive on appreciation.
Don’t ever talk behind someone’s back. Venting negative feelings to a co-worker about another staff person creates a negative ambience. It doesn’t change anything, other than to make you feel better for a few moments. What good does it do? The person you are venting to wonders if you are sharing negative feelings about them to someone else. If you have something to say to a colleague, find a positive way to say it to them. Otherwise, vent to your spouse or a friend outside of work.
Ask yourself—“What can I do to make things better?” In order to resolve conflict and improve any relationship, at work or at home, it’s necessary to have a certain level of trust, respect, and positive regard—aka goodwill. This is the gasoline that fuels every relationship. You add goodwill to your department or work group by making positive contributions. It takes intention, but anyone can do it. All you have to do is ask yourself—“What can I do to improve the atmosphere of my workplace?”—Then do it. It will make you and others feel good.
How do you positively contribute to your workplace’s atmosphere?