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   A survey of hundreds of thousands of people in 189 U.S. metropolitan areas in 2012 and 2013 ties personal well-being most closely to the relationship you have with your supervisor.

  “The cities with the best work environments were largely those where workers most often felt treated like a partner.  In fact, seven of the 10 best cities for work also had among the 10-highest percentages of workers who felt treated like a partner at work”

            Good work relationships were also linked to other well-being measures such as physical and emotional health.  When you have a high-quality relationship with your boss, you take fewer sick days, and you’re less likely to be threatened by such health conditions as obesity and smoking.  In addition, “emotionally healthy workers also make more valuable employees.”

            Interestingly, well-being was not tied in the same way to income level.  “In several instances, respondents from relatively poor areas overwhelmingly approved of their jobs, while residents of wealthier areas were often likely to give poor assessments.”

             Metro areas with the highest well-being included Provo-Orem, UT; Boulder, CO; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA.  Lowest scoring areas included Huntington-Ashland, W.VA.-KY-OH; Charleston, W. VA, and Redding, CA.

             How do workers come to feel that they are being “treated like a partner?”  It’s mainly their communication with their supervisors.  One message that this survey underscores is that nothing is more important to the quality of your life than your relationships, and nothing is more important to your relationships that your communication.  

             We develop our ways of listening and speaking at an early age, and by the time we enter the workforce, they’re pretty well-patterned.  And they’re not cast in stone.  You can do a lot to improve your communicating, whether you’re worker or supervisor.  And research shows that many helpful changes get reciprocated.  So the quality of your work life can definitely be improved, and along with it, your well-being (satisfaction, sense of empowerment, physical health, serenity).

       I wrote U&ME: Communicating in Moments that Matter as a communication self-help book that empowers readers to do just this.  It offers a simple model for making your communication what I call “as personal as possible,” at work, online, in families, in learning situations, and even in political situations. 

            “As personal as possible” doesn’t mean that you have to wear your heart on your sleeve or pry into the other person’s private life.  It just means that you take in and give out relevant parts of what make each of you a person as contrasted with just a role-filler (parent, teacher, server, warehouse worker). 

            The book describes how to “take in” aspects of the other person’s uniqueness, choices, unmeasurable parts (emotions, spirit, psyche), and mindful reflectiveness, and how to “give out” relevant aspects of your own.  When you and your conversation partner(s) can pull this off—and it isn’t rocket science—the communication between you will become more personal.  And when you do this as much as the situation permits, you’ll be making your communicating “as personal as possible.”  The more this happens, the better your quality of life.

            So you can use this nation-wide survey to enhance the quality of your life by improving your relationship with your supervisor.  It takes some skill, and it doesn’t always work the first time.  But it is possible!

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