Cultivating Strong Work Relationships

We hear the term relationship building, meaning you have good people skills. You are good at small talk, and find ways to relate to others. Like any skill, it takes practice.

Recently at a Business After Hours, I had the opportunity to visit with many people, and two conversations stand out. The first was a shy newcomer attending for the first time.  Walking into a new job or event alone and not knowing anyone is scary. Being courageous to talk to strangers can terrify people. The second conversation was with a more seasoned professional who discussed their experience in a leadership program and how, by the end of the program, eight people from various backgrounds and industries were bonded because of their experience and getting to know each other.

There are times and seasons when I am more courageous in meeting new people and other

times when I am shy. I know, shocking me shy. We start telephone and in-person conversations with “How are you?” We often respond, “Fine” If we take the time to ask more thoughtful questions, we will get more interesting answers, getting more powerful results.

Sample relationship-building questions:

What are you passionate about outside of work?

Taking a genuine interest in people’s passions helps to spark authentic conversations. Imagine the things you will learn about one another. Steven R Covey discusses that we need to make deposits in the emotional bank account. One of the six ways to make a deposit is to understand the individual, starting with learning about their outside interests.

What was the best thing that happened this week?

This question provides the opportunity to stop and reflect on gratitude. When we recognize the little joys in life, it allows us to celebrate the wins regardless of the size of the success.

How can I support you?

This question indicates to the person you are asking that you care and want to see them succeed.

What is your favorite hobby?

When you learn about their hobby, take some interest, ask them questions share something they may not know. For example, if they like to go caving and you just saw an article about a cool cave, share it with them because they may not know about the location.

What is most important to you right now?

This is a great question to ask at least once a year. We all have different seasons in life, and what are significant changes? To truly understand your peers, you need to understand some of their triumphs and challenges they are facing outside of work.

What movies or books have you been loving?

Notice the word is loving, not reading? We can often read a book and not love it. I enjoy reading leadership books. It is great fun to talk to other Leadership geeks and talk about books that have impacted us. I always walk away with another book to add to the list to read.

What are you learning right now?

No matter the season we should always be learning. Learning is not always about your job. For example, for me, I am learning how to enjoy cooking again. Let me explain. I loved to cook, then my children have gone through a season of being quite picky. One of my children is off experiencing the world as a young adult, another is a senior in high school whom I rarely see with his school and work schedule. The baby of the family is still being picky.  So I am learning how to downsize my recipes and try new ones.

Finally, the most important thing to building solid relationships at work or in personal life is following through on your commitments. You want to be known as a person of integrity. Integrity is conforming your words to your actions. 7 Habits of Highly effective people, Steven Covey says, “One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.” Do not criticize or talk about a coworker behind their back. We spend much of our time with our coworkers and peers at work. When we build better relationships within our organizations, it has a ripple effect. Retention and productivity improve, and we become kinder and show more empathy to all of our other relationships, which include customers, friends, and family.

Try one of the seven questions on a coworker today!

By Cheryl Viola, CEO & Executive Director, MBA