Building Great Work Relationships

One of the trends for 2020 is the need to rebuild relationships and this includes workplace friendships. To cope with rejection in the workplace, it is important to have a good social network. This means we need face-to-face contact, not just social media comments and likes. Most people spend most of their awake hours with the people you work with.

Humans are naturally social. We crave personal contact.  In general, we are forming fewer friendships than in the past. We fill our lives, with work and family, as our obligations increase, we struggle to fit everything into our already overcrowded calendars, the first thing that gets eliminated is quality time with friends. Our social network is becoming smaller and smaller and we are forming fewer deep meaningful relationships.

A Gallup organization said that people who have a good friend(s) at work are seven times more likely to be engaged and satisfied in their jobs. The better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we will be. Quality relationships provide support and help build individual self-worth.  The quality of good relationships is more important than the number of relationships.

I hear often that social settings are uncomfortable because a person is an introvert or that they just don’t know how to network or build relationships. As a society, I believe we have lost this ability. Years ago, families got together often and mingled and talked, block parties were normal and people knew their neighbors. Businesses are finding that customers are wanting more of their personal experience. It is difficult to give that personal experience to customers if we don’t have that same rapport with our co-workers.

I believe that all people have both introvert and extrovert traits. There are times when you start a new job or move to a new community that people tend to be shy or more introverted at first. I have had times in my life when I have chosen to be introverted, I know shocking right. Did you catch that? Being an introvert is a choice we make. It takes effort to put yourself out there and say hello.  For most people, we are no longer in a society where we live in the same community our entire lives or have the same job for our entire career. It is everyone’s responsibility to be welcoming and friendly to those we work and associate with. If we sit back waiting for someone to approach us, we might be waiting for a long time.

Building good relationships in life and the workplace helps with our mental and physical well-being. Good friendships help us buffer and cope with stress and make the workplace more enjoyable.

Characteristics that make up a good, healthy working relationship:

  • Trust
    • Trust is the foundation of every good relationship. When you trust the people, you work with you can be open and honest in thoughts, communication, and actions, and teams thrive. When there is a lack of trust in the workplace it causes stress, creates doubt and suspicion among teams which leads to a drop in productivity.
  • Mutual Respect
    • Mutual respect comes with the trust and they build off each other. When teams have mutual respect, they know they can have candid discussions. They are confident that their ideas are heard working together toward solutions with common goals.
  • Mindfulness
    • Mindfulness is taking responsibility for your words and actions. Nothing breaks down communication and trust faster than a team member who is quick to pass the buck or who takes credit for the entire team. A mindful person is careful to not let their negative emotions impact those around them. Mindfulness is being positive. The best leaders are the team’s biggest cheerleaders.
  • Welcoming diversity
    • Diversity in the workplace is more than cultural diversity. When we welcome and encourage diversity in the workplace, we encourage others to share their opinions (even if they differ from ours). We practice the skills of active listening.
  • Open Communication
    • Open communication seems self-explanatory; however, some work cultures say they have open communication yet team members are afraid to share their thoughts if they differ from the majority of the team. True open communication means you can agree to disagree and still work well together.

How to build good work relationships:

  • Develop your people skills.
    • Start small. Do you tend to eat at your desk and avoid the staffroom? Do you sit in the staff room but spend the entire time staring at your phone? Take the small step to say hello to someone you do not know well. Ask questions and find things in common.
  • Identify your relationship needs.
    • We all have different needs, some people like to work more independently without interruptions and prefer it quieter, others like the chatter and the constant contact. Be sure you know what your relationship needs are and communicate that to the team. For example, I am a morning person, I enjoy being the first person at the office because the allows me the quiet time organize myself, get some things accomplished before the activity of the full day starts.
  • Schedule time to build relationships
    • We like to use the excuse that “I am too busy”. Even if it is just 20 minutes and broken up into segments our mental health and well-being need to have face to face interaction. It becomes a conscious effort to set aside time to walk down the hall to talk to someone. The benefit of this is often it provides clarity especially if you are stuck on something. Stepping away from the desk and collaborating with a coworker can provide a new perspective that makes going back to the task easier.
  • Appreciate others
    • Be authentic and sincere.
  • Be positive

Building good friendships in the workplace has once again become paramount in creating a happy, productive work culture. Do not wait for others to come to you. Be the person to reach out and say hello to at least one person you don’t know well at work today.

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director