Unlike personal friendships, we don’t necessarily pick and choose who we get to work with. Many of us can therefore find that navigating relationships with other colleagues can induce feelings of stress and anxiety. It can make going to work overall, feel harder and less enjoyable if we feel we have difficult relationships with co-workers. Bullying in the workplace is also said to affect 20% of Australian workers, causing people to avoid work or work situations all together. If you’re finding managing difficult relationships at work is making you feel anxious, there’s some steps you can take:

• Have an honest conversation. Speak to a co-worker privately if they do or say something you find upsetting and have an open conversation about what’s happened. This can often be the quickest way to resolve a disagreement or misunderstanding, by simply communicating with the other person and expressing your feelings.
• Focus on what’s positive. You might find your working relationship can be straining, but maybe there’s something outside of work you both enjoy or a common hobby you both have? Talking about other non-work related topics together could help improve your relationship and ease feelings of anxiety.
• Keep a professional distance. Ultimately, if you do find a specific relationship difficult or anxiety inducing, you can keep a distance. You don’t need to be friends with everyone at work. You can aim to do your job, be civil, but not spend more time than needed with the colleague.
• Keep a record of any incidences of that feel like bullying/harassment behaviour.

Each incident on its own may seem insignificant but a record of a series of these over time can demonstrate to you and HR if this behaviour is unacceptable in the workplace.