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Building Effective Work Relationships

Are you building good relationships with your colleagues? Studies show, having friends at work leads to you being more engaged and satisfied at work! Today, we’ll do a dive into how you can build strong, positive relationships at work.

Are You Sure I Need Friends at Work?

Yes, I’m sure. No matter how smart you are, how hard-working, how many accolades you have racked up, it doesn’t really matter. If you can’t build effective relationships, you won’t connect with key people that can help you succeed. Effective interpersonal work relationships set you up for success and satisfaction with your job and career. Naturally, people are more likely to listen to your ideas and thoughts that you may have. These relationships are key as you continue to develop in your career. Friendships build trust, and when you are trusted at work, you could potentially be looked at for promotions, special projects, and more!

What Makes a Good Relationship?

There are many things that go into a good relationship, but we’ll focus on what I like to call the 3 pillars.

Communication - All good relationships depend on open and honest communication! Whether that be email, IM, or face to face(pre-COVID), you need to continue to practice open communication.

Trust/Respect - When you trust your boss, your team, and colleagues you build a connection that will help you work better together. When trust exists, you can have candid conversations and won’t have to worry about someone pulling one over you. Respect also goes hand and hand with trust. Respect is valuing your colleagues, and treating them how you would like to be treated, regardless of position or tenure.

Openness - This is what I like to define as being open to accepting people that are not like you. People that think differently, come from different backgrounds and cultures are a great value add, and you should appreciate that! Don’t be afraid to build relationships with people that don’t look or think like you, you are limiting your network and insights. Openness also means being open to accepting your own faults and shortcomings. People appreciate it when you are honest, and it shows that you are self-aware. No one wants to befriend a know-it-all or someone that thinks they are too good!

I could go on for days on key factors and qualities that help build effective relationships, but these 3 pillars are a great start to building your foundation!

How to Build the Relationship

Listen, no one is saying to go suck up to the most powerful person in the office. In fact, I highly discourage that. You should aim to connect with the people you work the most with and naturally progress from there. Start by identifying the things you all potentially have in common, and hone in on those conversations and build from there. Whether it’s food, music, family/friends. There is something that you all have in common, or place a great value in!

Sometimes it’s hard to naturally connect with people while at work, so you have to be intentional about it. That means scheduling time on people’s calendars. Now if it was 2019, I’d recommend grabbing a coffee or lunch. Since it’s 2020, schedule that quick 10-minute Zoom or Teams video call to connect. The important thing to remember is that the relationship needs to be mutually beneficial! Don’t be one-sided, really try to use effective listening skills to understand your colleague. Practice developing your emotional intelligence, meaning you have the ability to recognize emotions and how it impacts their messaging. Having that skill will help you understand the emotions and needs of your colleagues.

Relationships aren’t always easy, but if you build relationships on the 3 pillars and aim to connect on a personal level you will start to build effective interpersonal work relationships. Your colleagues will value you as a contributor and your bosses will see that you are a team player. Last but not least, I truly believe that you will enjoy your newly built relationship and have fun while doing so!




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