Simple And Effective Ways To Build A Working Relationship

Ways to make a mark in building a happy, healthy, and encouraging work environment.

By Harini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

Do you have a coworker you can’t see eye-to-eye with? Or do you find it difficult to get along with your team? Building a good working relationship with your coworkers, team, and the boss is essential for a harmonious work environment and a successful career. It can get tricky to work with people with diverse personalities, but it is crucial to get work done on the professional front. If your people skills are a little rusty, learn these simple and effective ways to communicate and connect with people in your workplace and sail through the workday with ease. Scroll down!

Why Have Good Work Relationships?

  • Job Satisfaction
    Solitary work often leads to frustration. But when you work in sync with colleagues, you feel like you are achieving something bigger than yourself. This is a fundamental aspect of increased job satisfaction. It is noticed that people who have a large circle of friends at the workplace feel more satisfied with their jobs.
  • Enhanced Productivity
    Miscommunication can kill productivity at the workplace. The senior says one thing, and the junior gets another. But when you work closely with people, there are lesser chances of a communication gap. You hear what the other person wants to say, and you don’t hesitate to ask questions. Once you start developing good relations at the workplace, you will be amazed at the productivity level you achieve.
  • Healthy Environment
    Good relationships have an echo effect. When you act friendly at the office, others start imitating you and vice versa. So, if you want a healthy environment at the office, start with yourself.
  • Personal Development
    Office politics does not just hamper the overall productivity of the company, but it also affects individuals. On the contrary, when you are in the good books of others, people start mentoring you instead of pulling you down. This leads to personal development.

Types Of Work Relationships

  • The Top Management: People at the highest supervisory roles in your company like the CEO, CFO, or Vice President should hold a special position in the list of your work relationships. You need to be respectful and cordial to the top management. Show them by your actions that they can trust you.
  • Direct Reporting Manager: The direct reporting manager is a person or group of people who directly supervise and review your work. These people are responsible for your growth in the company. You can use both hard and soft skills while interacting with them.
  • Team Members: People who hold a similar job title and work with you to achieve a common work goal are your teammates. Here, communication becomes the most crucial factor in your relationship.
  • Co-workers: Your professional acquaintances who might or might not work directly with you are your co-workers. You have to share pleasantries or, at best, water cooler conversations with them. Being polite and cordial helps to build a good relationship with co-workers.
  • Clients: A person who avails your company’s services or works in a business that uses your company’s services are called a client. When you interact with clients, you do not just represent yourself but also the company. So, ensure that your behavior with clients leaves them happy and satisfied.
  • Mentor: A person who guides you in your professional life is called a mentor. This relationship can last for years or even decades. Since your mentor spends time and mental space for your professional betterment, be respectful towards them.
  • Work Friends: Your teammates and co-workers with whom you can be casual are your work friends. You regularly socialize with them outside of the office too. Be true and communicative with your work friends as they are your support in your professional life.
  • Mentees: People who take professional advice from you, officially or unofficially, are your mentees. Since they are your juniors and truly want to learn from you, be empathetic and communicative with them.
  • People Who Report To You: When you are in a managerial or leadership position, a person or a group of people will report to you. Be friendly yet goal-oriented with these people.
  • Life Friends: A few co-workers or teammates who share a deep personal connection with you are your life friends. They are your support, your lifeline not just in professional life but also in personal life. You open your true self in front of them and expect the same.

No doubt, every work relation is important. But since you have limited time and mental space, you cannot give equal importance to everyone at your workplace. So, how do you decide which work relationships are the most important?

Which Work Relationships Are Important?

A rule of thumb that works best is to keep people at the top of the priority list who you work directly with. For example, your direct reporting managers, teammates, and clients are the ones that you have to work closely with.

Just like personal relationships, work relationships also demand attention and effort. But worry not. Once the ball gets rolling, it becomes easy. Here are a few things that will help you build effective work relationships.

How To Build Good Work Relationships

  • Take The First Step: If you have joined a new team or organization, show your interest in doing the work. In the initial days, you will not be given big projects. But you can be proactive and ask to help teammates with their work.
  • Give What You Expect: Sometimes, we complain about how some people in the office never talk and look stern. But we do the same with people we are not interested in. So, give people time and talk to them even if you are not directly involved with their work.
  • Avoid Office Politics: You are likely to face office politics at least once in your early career. If you find yourself in the middle of such a situation, it is better not engage in that or tackle the problem directly.
  • Draw The Lines: You might try to get casual with your teammates or co-workers. But some work relationships are supposed to be strictly formal. It is recommended that you draw the lines (in your mind!) of how much of your personal life you are going to share.
  • Be Punctual With Work: When your professional acquaintances turn into professional friends, you might get too casual and miss the deadlines. But remember, you developed good relationships at work because of your professionalism, not missed deadlines.
  • Be Communicative And Positive: When the workloads are high, most people tend to get negative. If you face such a situation, try to solve the problem by being positive. Communicate your troubles and roadblocks to the person you are reporting to.

Workplaces include sharp people of different minds who might not always get along well. So, you don’t need to worry if you happen to find yourself in a damaged relationship. Just put in a little effort, and you can mend it.

How To Mend A Work Relationship

  • Acknowledge The Problem: Sometimes, bad blood does not look like bad blood. A bad relationship will not always involve bad-mouthing or gossipping behind the back. If you are not getting along with someone for a long time, go straight to them and acknowledge your problem.
  • Apologize If Needed: Once you acknowledge the problem, the other person will surely tell you their side of things. After understanding what happened, if you think you are at fault, do not shy away from apologizing.
  • Forget And Move On: Problems might arise even when no one is at fault. In such cases, it is better to forget and move on. You have to realize the reason you are at the workplace. This will make it easier not to take things personally.
  • Involve Trusted People: If you are unable to solve the problem, you can involve a wise and trusted person at the workplace. It is better to involve a teammate, preferably the person you directly report to.

Every working relationship is different. The relationship can change even if the person is the same, but their title gets changed.

Essential Ingredients Of A Good Working Relationship

  • Reliability: The most important elements of working relationships are reliability and trust. You cannot afford to spend all your time thinking, “should I share this or not?”
  • Communication: Be it a senior-junior relationship or a relationship between peers, clear communication is important. The more honest the conversation, the more productive your relationship will be.
  • Professionalism: There is no point in building a working relationship that is not about ‘work.’ If the relationship involves a person who is not interested in doing the work, it will affect your work life sooner or later.
  • Respect: Respect the other person’s skills, inputs, and creativity at work. Mutual respect can keep peer relationships working even if the output of that relationship is not that productive.

Once in a while, you might find yourself amidst difficult relationships at the workplace. If you know how to tackle it the right way, you will save yourself from a lot of trouble. Here are some ways you can handle a difficult work relationship.

Handling Difficult Work Relationships

  • Go straight to the person and discuss the issue.
  • Try to understand the other party’s perspective.
  • If you can’t understand their views, try to accept them as part of their nature.
  • Involve a senior colleague if things go out of hand.
  • Limit your interactions and try to focus on positive areas of your work.

It is significant to know how your co-workers think about you. Do they find you trustworthy or do they always ‘watch their back’ while working with you?

Do Your Co-workers Think You Are Trustworthy?

Ask yourself the following questions to understand whether your co-workers think you are trustworthy or not:

  • Do your co-workers share their professional problems with you?
  • Do you get positive performance reviews from your peers?
  • Do your co-workers actively help you at the workplace?

Key Takeaways

  • Forging work relationships may feel too taxing for some individuals. However, you just need to put in extra effort, and everything will fall in place.
  • Good work relationships can make you feel more content with your jobs, enhance productivity, and contribute to personal development.
  • But make it a point to avoid office politics and not get too casual with your colleagues or bosses.

Working relationships play a big role in job satisfaction and productivity as they help maintain a good work environment. Building effective working relationships is not easy but not that tough either. Put your fears and ego aside and always take the first step to initiate conversations and exchange pleasantries. Be respectful to all your officemates –⁠ those in the highest positions, managers, team members, clients, subordinates, etc. Moreover, be punctual with your work, avoid unnecessary politics, and communicate well, especially with your coworkers, as you will be spending the most time with them. If you are finding it difficult to develop good working relationships, follow the tips discussed in the article and see how everything changes gradually.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a working relationship and a personal relationship?

The rapport you share with your colleagues and co-workers defines a working relationship, while a personal relationship is mostly with someone you know outside of your work and office.

Do work relationships work?

Yes, maintaining discipline, good productivity, and respecting everyone’s boundaries can help forge a good work relationship. Also, if you find yourself romantically involved with someone at work place, it is important to keep your personal equation out of your work and professional responsibilities.

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