People tend to think about work relationships in the wrong way, mainly because evolution wired us to appraise situations as either “good” or “bad,”. Instinctively, we assess our relationships with colleagues in similar either-or terms. The problem is, relationships often include a mix of both positive and negative aspects.

Most people also see coworker relationships as being fixed: Good ones will always remain happy, and bad ones will never get better. Consequently, we take our healthy relationships for granted, instead of giving them the attention and investment they need. We also write off those that have soured, instead of taking steps to improve them. This, too, is misguided, because coworker relationships are actually fluid: Even the most toxic ones can be repaired, and the most positive can quickly spiral downward.

The bottom line is that coworker relationships have a natural ebb and flow. Every day you have countless opportunities to shape and reshape them. The key is to build the coworker relationships you want, instead of just settling for the relationships you have.

Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - The Little Things That Affect Our Work Relationships, by Kerry Roberts Gibson and Beth Schinoff