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The effect of attitudes on interpersonal relationships in the workplace is well documented in scholarly psychology literature. However, opinions regarding the types of effects that result from different attitudes vary somewhat. Regardless of the opinion of scholars, it does help for business owners to know how attitudes affect these relations among workers so that they can hire the right kinds of people and also head off any potential problems among existing employees.
One way in which attitudes affect interpersonal work relationships is evident in the way a positive attitude can engender a sense of cooperation among workers. The tendency to think positively and approach each task with a "can-do" attitude can be infectious. When it comes to collaborating on projects, the positive attitude can spill over into the way employees cooperate with one another. Those who start projects with the expectation of completing the project on time and correctly will find no excuses for not getting the work done. Those who cooperate with one another on these types of projects will generally have more positive relations with one another.
Workers with a poor attitude about work and the tasks they are required to complete will have a negative effect on those around them. Just as a positive attitude is infectious and spreads to others, so too do poor attitudes have a negative effect on worker relations. This can cause division in the workplace, making it difficult for employees to collaborate with one another, as the poor attitudes spill over into how they treat one another.
Studies show that workers who have similar attitudes, positive or negative, will inevitably attract people with similar attitudes. A 2010 article published in the International Journal of Innovation, Management and Technology reveals that workers tend to develop relationships with colleagues who share the same outlook on the world. The recognition that others have similar attitudes and values will inevitably lead to the establishment of potentially long-term relations with these employees. The article points out that the establishment of such relationships has the reciprocal effect of elevating self-esteem and strengthening the beliefs and values of those who did the attracting.
Shared attitudes and values can strengthen interpersonal relations among workers by opening up the lines of communication. Communication is essential for the growth of relationships among people, regardless of whether they are colleagues. Those who have positive attitudes and are open to interpersonal communication with others will be more effective in developing positive interpersonal work relationships. Those with a negative attitude can be harder to communicate with because of their tendency to shut down or close themselves off from interacting with others. In short, the communication necessary for interpersonal relations is affected by the attitudes of the workers.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.