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College of Human Ecology

K-State Specialist: everyday conversation can improve relationships

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Turning a deaf ear on would-be, could-be conversations can shortchange personal and professional relationships, a Kansas State University family specialist said.

"Think of a comment or a question as an invitation - and an opportunity," said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, K-State Research and Extension family systems specialist. Here´s an example: A co-worker offers a cheery "good morning" and draws a positive response about an upcoming project.

The early morning conversation is one that can encourage interaction and dialog that will support a pleasant, productive work relationship, Olsen said.

A failure to respond or gruff "that´s not the way I see it!" does little to encourage conversation or positive working relationships, said Olsen, who offered tips for adding value to interpersonal communications:

* Take the time to listen.

* If you miss a comment or question, apologize and ask the other person to repeat it.

* Respond as positively as possible and with interest, an appreciative comment or humor, if appropriate, to invite further dialog.

* Keep it simple. A short response can be enough to let others know that you value the relationship. Repeated failures to respond will, however, send the message that you don´t value a relationship.

* Tone matters. A hostile comment - a zinger, for example - can fuel hostility.

* Respect boundaries - personal information is personal.

Positive interaction almost always adds value to interpersonal relationships - and to each day, as well, Olsen said.

More information on using communication to build personal and professional relationships is available at local and district K-State Research and Extension offices.

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Nancy Peterson
K-State Research and Extension

For more information:
Charlotte Shoup Olsen is at 785-532-1161 or colsen@ksu.edu.

This article was posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2008, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.