The Five Mistakes We Make in Work Relationships

Two women smiling during a work meeting.


Cultivate Operational Integrity

What's the one thing that can make or break a company?

Hint: It's not technology, capital or marketing prowess. 

It's relationships.

That's what Gay and Kathlyn "Katie" Hendricks, husband-and-wife founders of the California-based Hendricks Institute, believe after studying personal and business relationships for three-plus decades. In their research and consulting work, they've watched creativity and productivity blossom once people relate to each other in healthy ways.

Katie Hendricks says workplace issues are almost always about relationships. "There's some sort of issue keeping people from collaborating or meeting a deadline or making a product," she says. Backstabbing co-workers, meddling supervisors, impossible-to-please executives and down-in-the-dumps naysayers are more than just workplace nuisances—they hinder the whole organization.

At the root of this damaging behavior is lack of integrity in interactions, Gay and Katie Hendricks assert. So the couple developed their own definition of "operational integrity," with these four pillars as guidelines for positive behavior. (Read more explanation in How to Improve Office Relations Today on

  • Emotional literacy: Understand your feelings and the source of those feelings. Work through those emotions so they don't sully your interoffice relationships.
  • Impeccable agreements: Keep agreements you make; don't make agreement you can't keep; know when agreements need to be altered.
  • Authentic speaking and resonant listening: Speak truthfully and openly. Listen with empathy.
  • Healthy responsibility: Learn to take full responsibility for your work. Promote and inspire responsibility in others.

These principles are the backbone of the institute's relationship coaching. Adhere to them through awareness, evaluation and practice as advised on the next four pages, and the result will be a more positive, productive and creative company, the Hendrickses say. Shatter the principles, and you end up making the five most common mistakes the couple see in the workplace. (Spoiler alert: You may see yourself as a workplace morale-sucker in some of these mistake scenarios. Don't worry; none of us is perfect—and we'll tell you how to change.)

A version of this article appeared in SUCCESS on October 11, 2012, with the headline Work Wars. Copyright and modified by permission of SUCCESS Media.


Facebook comments