Top 8 Tips on Building Relationships at Work

As we spend the majority of our waking time at work, building relationships is a critical skill to master. Building relationships enables us to be productive and happy at work. Business is all about relationships. We achieve results either through other people or by co-operating with others.

A client, Brian, is an MD who has a service provider who is exceptionally challenging, unpredictable and irrational. Despite the fact that the latter makes life really difficult for him, Brian has the ability to take none of the issues personally. Brian is respectful and amicable. He is also quite willing to assert himself and disagree with the service provider when necessary. He does it in a friendly and kind way that “neutralises” the service provider’s over-reactions. Brian is exceptionally skilled at building relationships with others. As a result he is well-liked and respected in his industry, locally and internationally.

How to build relationships at work

Learn to listen: Every person has a basic need to be heard and understood. When we genuinely accept another person and their point of view, we are listening. We create a safe space for the other person to express themselves by refraining from being judgmental or voicing our response immediately.

Never take anything personally: Take a step back initially in your interactions with others. From this detached position focus totally on the person with whom you are interacting. Forget about your insecurities and desires. By doing this you will not allow others to press your buttons. Instead you will try to understand what is important to them.

Build rapport: Find ways to “connect” with others. What are their interests? What are they really like? Some people are more analytical and task or results driven. If you fall in these categories you need to increase your level of emotional and social intelligence. This will enable you to build stronger relationships with others.

Learn to pick your battles: So many highly successful business people will say how careful they are in which challenges to “fight” and which to let go. Be aware of confronting the “wrong” person. This is the person who has the power to block your career. Be careful of CLMs i.e. Career Limiting Moves.

Watch your words: How we communicate either succeeds in building relationships or breaking them. Our words either empower or dis-empower someone. John Randolph Price says: “We are all walking around with a loaded gun between our teeth and our tongues seem to love to pull the trigger.”

So we need to err on thinking before we react. This is particularly relevant when we are angry or upset. People like Brian can shrug off others’ mean and threatening comments. However, there are very sensitive people who are deeply affected by how others treat them.

How do you want to be remembered?

Respect: Treat people courteously and kindly. Pay attention. Look at them while they are talking. I recall a general manager with whom I had regularly meetings. He always stood at the window of his office looking outside. Needless to say there was just no human connection. Granted he was an actuary! It is evident that his emotional and social intelligence skills were poor. It was really awkward talking to someone whose focus was elsewhere.

Refrain from office gossip: Telling stories about others is a sure way to destroy trust. At some stage you are bound to be on the receiving end of such behaviour yourself. It is best to focus on getting on with everyone and being faultless in your interactions with others. This will lead to building relationships at work.

Look for mitigating reasons: Instead of judging someone, think of good reasons for their unacceptable behaviour. As much as it may seem as if some people have perfect lives, it is not so. The vast majority of people are dealing with some or other challenge: a child not doing well at school, the death of a loved one, worrying about the future, financial issues, feeling unappreciated at work, politics at work, ill health, etc. So instead of coming to a quick conclusion, find out what is affecting someone’s behaviour or performance.

Life has a way of bringing people with whom we had problems in the past, back onto our path again! You will benefit from life coaching sessions if you have unfinished issues with somebody at work. Is there an issue you need to resolve?

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Mother Teresa

“Encouragement helps people to change their story.”

Michael McKinney

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Dale Carnegie


Posted in Relationships, Self mastery.