As an adult, you spend the majority of your productive hours of the week working with and alongside other people. In order for you to be the most productive and carry a good sense of belonging, you need to have great working relationships with those that you interact with.
With personality rubs, competing personal priorities, and an uneven amount of compassion and empathy, talking about the importance of great working relationships is easier said than done. Here are some simple approaches to implement to start building those relationships today.
Communicate & stay in touch
One of my biggest hurdles when wanting to better a working relationship is the communication cadence. The relationship might not be where it needs to be simply because there isn’t a relationship in the first place. It’s hard to build a relationship with someone that you don’t talk to!
Be mindful to reach out regularly. It may feel a bit forced at first, but by approaching it with genuine care and curiosity, you can help smooth over any awkwardness.
Be thoughtful in your communication approach as well. We all have our preferred vehicle for communication and it may not be the same for the person that you are trying to build a relationship with.
Look for opportunities to connect
I like to show up to meetings early because then I have the opportunity to connect with others without an agenda attached to the time. The conversations can range anywhere from work-related to small talk to learning about others.
Before one meeting last week, we talked about Nashville and its wild people gatherings on Broad Street. From there I learned that someone on the team lived there, other people’s musical preferences, and what they have done in the city. All great info to have when building relationships with others. (And none involving work!)
Show to meetings early and/or be the last to leave. Also, consider other opportunities like shared work breaks and lunches together. It shows others that you have a genuine interest in them and it’s a natural way to have more connections with others.
Great working relationships are grounded in trust and a level of mutual respect. You can show respect to others by:
- Meeting and exceeding your commitments to them and the team.
- Being on time (or early) to meetings and communicating early when a situation prevents you from attending.
- Honor people’s time. Don’t keep them too long if they need to be moving on to the next thing.
- Listen more than you talk in meetings.
- Stay away from office politics and gossip. Even if it’s not involving the other person, they will see that you are participating in the gossip and may wonder what you are saying about them when they are not around.
- Be accountable for any missteps that happen as you build the relationship. We all make mistakes. It’s important to own them so the other person sees and understands that you recognize your growth opportunities.
Lean into the positive
There is a time and place for venting and sharing frustration, but the time you are investing in relationship building is not the proper time.
Keep away from complaining about others because it doesn’t help as you try to build trust and respect with others. Look for positive solutions to problems that people take for granted. Keeping a positive focus will naturally draw others to you and accelerate those relationships to want to strengthen.
Stay in touch with the people you are building relationships with and look for natural points to build rapport and add value. Show respect and communicate in a way that meets their personal preference. Stepping out of your comfort zone a little in order to grow relationships will be a valuable step of faith.
Make a better tomorrow.