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10 Universal Tips to Improve Relationships at Work and at Home

I’m one of those people who loves to make connections between two totally dissimilar things. This recently hit me while talking to my supervisor about an issue that had come up at work. It wasn’t anything shocking or earth-shattering, but I responded with, you know what, it’s like dating! If you say you’re going to do something, you should do it.”

Cue the angels singing, because this blog topic instantly started to write itself in my head.

From what I’ve experienced, the similarities between dating and working are actually quite numerous! Maybe you’re more in tune with dating than you are with having friendships with coworkers, or maybe it’s the opposite. No matter how you slice it, that next level can be daunting.

Keep those fingers crossed for the best and apply these tips to your romantic life, your work life, or both:

1. Do not reveal all of your strengths or talents right away.

  • Dating: You wouldn’t brag on the first date about being able to fluently speak three languages or the fact that you own three Cadillacs. Or, at least you shouldn’t if you ever want to see the other person ever again.
  • Working: Gradually expose your boss and coworkers to your hidden talents instead of bragging outright. You speak Spanish fluently? Cool! Volunteer to help if someone ever needs a translator. You’ll impress your boss and your coworkers will greatly appreciate it, too.

Sometimes you have to put down the phone and just hang out with friends

2. Be capable of working independently, but don’t be afraid to accept support.

  • Dating: Nobody enjoys being around that clingy person, let alone dating one. Have other hobbies and friends to hang out with besides your beau to keep yourself (and them) sane and happy. However, don’t forget about them when they need you!
  • Working: A manager typically considers it a good day if micromanaging employees are kept to a minimum. Do the best you can with the job assigned to you. But if you find it’s taking a lot longer to accomplish than what you thought, then check with your supervisor to make sure that what you’re doing is correct. There’s no point in doing a job more than once if you can avoid it.

3. Avoid long-term misery by clearing up minor miscommunications immediately, rather than waiting for them to fester and become a huge issue.

  • Dating: So, your date said they would call you after eight o’clock and never did? Bet that was annoying and made you feel like number seventy-seven on their list of priorities that day, huh? The next time you talk to that person, bring it up instead of letting it bug you for the next three weeks. Communication is difficult sometimes, but it’s necessary.
  • Working: You didn’t appreciate staying until 9:30 last night because your boss threw a project at you at 4:57 PM that needed to be finished by 9 AM today? Don’t wait until your yearly review in six months to voice your frustration. At some point during that day or within that week (when you’ve calmed down and can speak in a non-threatening tone), sit down and explain what could be done in the future to prevent this from happening again. Mention that you could have given it the full attention it deserved if you had more time to work on it, instead of only doing the best you could with the time restraints given. There’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again, but at least you’ll feel better for having brought it to their attention.

Just don't be creepy when you listen

4. Be a good listener.

  • Dating: There’s nothing worse than making your partner feel like you couldn’t care less about what they’re saying. If you genuinely like the other person, then listening to them shouldn’t be a chore or something that you need to remind yourself to do. Open those ears and listen!
  • Working: Your coworkers and you are all in it as a team, so stick together. If another employee is freaking out about a project or assignment, then lend a supportive ear and offer advice IF SPECIFICALLY ASKED. (Remember, sometimes venting is all that’s needed to de-stress).

5. Own up to wanting out.

  • Dating: Maybe you’re tired of the relationship, so you want out. There’s nothing wrong with that, as circumstances change so do the people we’re around. Be honest with the other person about it and speak up. They’ll appreciate that effort a lot more than wondering why you’re suddenly not calling them anymore.
  • Working: Are you tired of the job or the company you’re working for? Instead of making everyone around you work twice as hard because you’ve given up and lost motivation, find another job that does interest you. You’ll be happier, your ex-coworkers will be happier, and so will your ex-boss. Avoiding burning any bridges, though, because you never know what tomorrow may or may not bring!

"Oh you needed that report 'today' at 3? Oops- my bad".

6. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

  • Dating: Let’s say you promised your significant other you’d go to a baseball game with them on Thursday, but you couldn’t find someone to cover for you at work. Now they’re mad and not responding to your calls. Next time, instead of promising them something you know you have a 50/50 chance of actually doing, be honest with them from the beginning.
  • Working: Don’t promise your coworker or boss you’ll accomplish a task if you have no intention of getting it done or if you know you won’t be able to get it done by the time they need it. It’s great to be the employee who volunteers for everything, but you’re only hurting yourself if you have a 25% shot of actually getting it done. It’s much better to be the employee who volunteers 50% of the time, but gets the job done 100% of the time.

7. Give it everything you’ve got all the time.

  • Dating: Relationships take work, so they require time and energy to be successful. Don’t give up because things get tough (unless there’s absolutely no hope for making it work). If you’re not willing to put in the effort, then maybe you’re not with the person you’re meant to be with.
  • Working: Some mornings, it may sound horrible to come in and put your nose to the grindstone (actually, I don’t know when that would ever sound enjoyable); but alas, you have to push through it. Do whatever it takes to shake off the cobwebs and focus on what’s at hand and do it. After all, that’s why they’re paying you.

Take advantage of this sight when you can, never know when you'll see it again!

8. Pay attention and express appreciation for positive things.

  • Dating: Tell your other half when they do something that makes you smile. Chances are they’ll keep doing it if you like it, and the smiles and warm fuzzy feelings will keep on coming.
  • Working: Bosses can regularly let staff know what they like most about job performances: what they appreciate, what makes them proud, and what could be improved. In turn, subordinates can show appreciation when their boss compliments them. It’s a sad truth, but managers are not required to commend employees for a job well done, so thank them when they do.

9. Accept others for who they are.

  • Dating: It’s always easier to see the faults in others, but we all have them. Nobody is perfect, so remember that when you’re in a relationship. Either learn to tolerate minor quirks or, worst case scenario, start looking for someone with quirks you can deal with on a regular basis.
  • Working: Everyone we work with is different, and it’s a huge challenge to accept them all. Why does Bob always bring a tuna sandwich to lunch? Does Maureen really need to file her nails every morning at 10:47? These quirks make us who we are, so take a deep breath and come to an understanding and accept them. You’ll be able to avoid arguments and quarrels in the future by admitting they’re different and moving on from there.

"Oh good. I made it home to sleep for 2 hours before I have to go back to work".

10. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

  • Dating: If you don’t like having your texts or calls ignored, then make sure you respond to any communication that comes your way. On the flipside, respect your partner’s time alone if they need it, because a time will come where you’ll just want to hang out and veg out by yourself without being bugged. Think before you act!
  • Working: If you don’t enjoy getting yelled at about missing a deadline, then don’t do it to your employees. Do you hate staying late? Then don’t expect anyone to enjoy staying late, either. Just because we’re not in kindergarten anymore doesn’t mean we can throw out all the lessons we learned.

Depending on your current mood, dating and working can either be viewed as time consuming and pointless or as awesome and a lot of fun. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, just know that there are other people involved, so be cool and don’t be “that” person we’ve all heard about.

Can you think of any other similarities between dating and working? Do you have any good tips for dating or getting psyched to work?

Image credit to Clipart.com.


Amy Swanson

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ content developers and social media coordinators. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can connect with Amy on

Comments

  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    How about: “Understand you’ll have to make compromises.”

    There’s no way that you’re going to find a person that’s 100% just like you (and even if there was, that would be pretty boring), so you’ll have to make compromises on movies you see or furniture you buy or what to do on a Saturday night.

    As for the workplace, unless you’re self-employed, you can’t just do whatever you want. Maybe you want to try a new social media strategy, but your boss isn’t sold on the idea yet. Pick up a project she’d like done and then approach her again about the strategy. :)

    • Amy Swanson

      Very true, Mandy! You have to be flexible in any relationship and understand that you won’t always get your way 100% of the time, but think of all the new experiences or ideas you’ll be exposed to! Whether it’s with your coworkers or partner, just remember that you aren’t the only one in this relationship but you’re a team.

  2. Jeff Porretto

    There’s an old adage about how when you go out on a dinner date with someone, and you want to know what kind of person they REALLY are, pay close attention to how they treat the waiter/waitress.

    So my advice (as a manager) would be to look how employees treat OTHER people if you really want to know what kind of employee/co-worker they are before you dole out the assignments and/or accolades.

    Wow, the similarities really are uncanny! Nice one Swanson!

    • Amy Swanson

      Thanks Jeff :) I like that adage a lot better than looking at how they treat their mother, dog, sibling, etc. I think you could get more insight from that- if they treat a stranger like crap, how will they treat someone they do know and interact with on a daily basis? What a great tip there that can be applied to either dating or working!

  3. Candice J.

    So I basically LOVE this blog post! I would say I have the biggest problem with #2. I’m so used to doing everything on my own that when people offer support I usually am hesisitant or decline because its just not what I’m used to. Of course, I’m much more willing when it comes to the work place because I’d rather get it right then get it wrong! I think the most important one is #6. I think that not only applies to work and personal relationships but to life really. I can’t stand when I can trust someone or take them at their word. Your word is a representation of you so when you say something mean it!! Don’t say you can do or produce things that you can’t or make promises you can’t keep! But really all of these are essential to have any sort of positive relationship in life regardless of the setting. GREAT JOB AMY!!!! :-)

    • Amy Swanson

      Aww, thank you so Candice! Your comment totally makes my day :D

      Finding a good balance between being independent, but still accepting help is a tough one to figure out. I have yet to find that balance, so if you do let me know, haha!

      Once you get burned with having someone go back on their word it’s tough to get that out of your head at future jobs or in new relationships. Even though no two people are the same, it’s still difficult forgetting that experience and how it made you feel.

      I’m so glad you liked this post, Candice!

  4. Jaimie Smith

    Amy, words cannot even describe how awesome this blog post is! It is sooo true. You can take each and every one of these tips and apply them to dating and the work place. It is crazy how the two of them connect.
    I had fun reading this because as I would read the tips, it was funny to think of times where someone did or not follow up on that tip (both in dating and in my working life). There are probably a few ex bfs and work team members in my past I could share this post with! :-P
    As always, amazinggg post, Amy! :)

    • Jaimie Smith

      The one I am probably the worst at is number 6. At least with my different groups of friends. My problem is I hate telling people no. So if people ask to hang out or something, many times I will say Yeah probably, even if I knew I already have plans. I just hate the thought of saying no and letting people down. But that’s not a good thing, because then I just let them down when I realize I don’t have the time to do both things and have to bail on someone. :( So basically I am just procrastinating the “letting people down” issue. lol

      • Amy Swanson

        When I was writing and researching this I actually had Jana read it and make suggestions so I didn’t come across as some crazy ex-girlfriend. Let’s just say my first draft was good therapy for me and it’s a good thing that version didn’t get published ;)

        Telling people ‘no’ is really hard though, I agree with you 100%! I’m a people-pleaser so I will bend over backwards to make sure everyone around me is happy and comfortable. I really need to stop doing this, but as you know it’s easier said than done. One day we’ll get it figured out!

        I’m so glad you liked this post, I was a bit apprehensive about it when I was writing it. Thanks Jaimie :D

  5. Alex Brodsky

    To piggyback on Jeff’s comment (but not underneath his, I don’t want him getting more credit), I’ve also heard that you find out a lot about a person by how they deal with tangled Christmas lights.

    When I run a Fortune 500 Company, every employee during the hiring process will get handed a disgusting mess of Christmas lights. They don’t necessarily have to succeed in untangling them, they just can’t get super-upset/angry about it. Otherwise I know they won’t be able to handle complicated situations with a calm demeanor.

    In relationships, my girlfriend passed. She didn’t get the lights untangled. She just didn’t freak out. Instead, she handed them over to me so I could do it.

    The one thing most of these work AND relationship tips have in common is COMMUNICATION. In a world that talks at 143 characters at a time (I think that’s how many twitter allows, I’m not sure, I’m not a twit), people seem afraid of real, honest communication. In the long run, that simply makes things worse for all involved.

    Very cool post, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      Gotta love Maya Angelou, right? I loved that adage too and linked to it in one of my past posts (http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/blog/shopping-preferences-reveal-your-personality/) It’s frightening how true it is, haha!

      Communication is key and something that can’t be ignored or put on the back burner in a healthy relationship on any level. Getting the issues out there can be awkward, but it’s important to do no matter if it’s about a raise you want at work or not wanting to go to a party on Saturday night with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Talking it out is the only way things will get taken care of.

      So glad you liked it, Alex :)

      And, don’t pretend like you don’t know tweets are 140 characters. I know you have an account somewhere with over ten thousand followers ;)

    • Rachel

      I think I would fail your Christmas lights test, Alex. :( They make me so angry! But I’m not an angry person. Or at least, I didn’t think I was …

  6. Cybernetic SAM

    Haha I guess this really applies to me!!! I hope Joe read it too! :) You made some awesome points, I was running a checklist in my head! This was genius great POST AMY!!!!! YOU WIN!!! but this means you have to be an expert a dating now! So be sure to share this to any significant other! :P

    • Amy Swanson

      WOW, thanks so much for the awesome comment Sam :D I’m so glad I hit all the right points and didn’t come across as some crazy ax-welding ex-girlfriend or the current psycho-weirdo girlfriend that I’m trying hard not to be, haha. Phew! ;)

      I’m about as far as you can get from being an expert on either topic, these are just things that I’ve noticed and wondered if anyone else had too. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Yay for winning!!

  7. Jen

    I really like #10 “Treat others like you would want to be treated”, the golden rule. I live my life by this, and I wish more people would also. This is great advice for relationships inside and outside the office. Great post Amy, these topics correlated nicely!

    • Amy Swanson

      I’m convinced that the world would be a much better place if everyone lived by the golden rule- it’s not that hard. But until everyone jumps on board, keep on living it out, Jen :)

  8. Rachel

    #3, about miscommunication, is so important! So many disagreements and resentment seem to stem from miscommunication, no matter the situation. I figure, you either have to talk about it, like you said, or if it’s something small, just take a deep breath and let it pass.

    Great post, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      Yep, I have to agree with your statement, “you either have to talk about it, or if it’s something small, just take a deep breath and let it pass”. While you shouldn’t dismiss every disagreement, there are some that are just worth leaving alone and not making a mountain out of a molehill. Thanks, Rachel for commenting!

      Ps. I kind of want to bring in tangled Christmas lights and see how the blogsquad members react to untangling them. I can only imagine how some people would react to it, haha! ;)

  9. Jill Tooley

    I can’t stress the importance of numbers 3 and 4 enough! Communication is overlooked in many relationships, probably because it’s associated with doing more work (which no one ever wants to do). But in my experience, all healthy relationships I’ve ever had stem from good communication! As for number 4, well, it may be the most crucial of all. You won’t get anywhere if your listening skills suck. In this age of smartphones, tablets, and social networking, it’s frustrating to compete for the attention of a significant other! And I don’t feel I should have to… [pouty face]

    Excellent post, Amy! Everything lines up so well, no matter which type of relationship we’re trying to maintain (or fix). :)

    • Amy Swanson

      You never realize how important communication is in a relationship until you don’t have it one. You and the other person (a friend or “more than just a friend”) are constantly on different pages and you’re both so confused that eventually the relationship fizzles out.

      Same with listening, granted not everything the other person is going to say is going to be amazing and awesome all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s all about give and take, sometimes you’re the one taking control of the conversation and other times you’re giving the other person the control of the conversation.

      (and I totally agree with wanting complete attention while I’m talking, not 25% while their iPhone gets the other 75%- you’re not alone!)

      Thanks for all your help while I wrote this blog, I really appreciate it! :)

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