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Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion
Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion

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5.3 Building and maintaining work relationships

Connecting with people you work with, whether they are full-time colleagues or occasional participants, means being able to build a bond that stimulates their interest and engagement. Communication often serves two purposes: conveying information and/or an interpersonal function. The interpersonal function relates to developing confidence, trust and rapport with others, which are essential aspects of building and maintaining successful working relationships.

The technical name for small talk is ‘phatic communication’. Examples are ‘Hi, you OK?’ or a comment about the weather. Questions or comments such as these are not meant to elicit detailed responses, but they do serve a social purpose. Phatic talk openings to dialogue are important in establishing goodwill, collaboration and cohesion between people.

Communication involves not only the words you use, but also the accompanying paralinguistic features such as pace, volume, rhythm and intonation of speech, all of which add to meaning.

Non-verbal communication features include gestures, proximity and eye contact. These contribute to effective communication.

Hand gestures are often used by speakers to accentuate the rhythm of their speech and give emphasis to certain words. They can also be used to point inwardly to magnify the first person (i.e. ‘me’, ‘I’ or ‘personally’) or outwardly to those listening (i.e. ‘you’).

Head gestures are often used by listeners in a dialogue to show they are listening.

You can partly control the feelings you exhibit, but hiding your innermost emotions can be hard – our faces leak information as numerous micro-expressions involuntarily flicker across our face.

Activity 10 The impact of hybrid on communicating with colleagues

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Due to the pandemic, many of us are now working with people we have never actually met ‘in real life’.

Thinking about the aspects of communication described above, how have hybrid or digital-only working arrangements affected your ability to build and maintain work relationships?

You can make some notes in the box below.

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