Can your co-workers
drive your career?
The importance of building strong relationships for a productive and enjoyable working environment
By Angela Civitella
Previously published November 1, 2017
Have you ever wondered about your relationships at work? Are they at the level they should be? Research has shown that if someone works in an environment where they have strong relationships, they are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. And it doesn’t have to be a best friend: results show that people who simply have a good friend in the workplace are more likely to be satisfied.
It is imperative to build strong, positive relationships at work. Why it’s important to strengthen relationships with people that you don’t naturally get on with should also be a focal point for anyone wanting to create a productive and enjoyable work environment.
Why have good relationships?
Because we are social creatures – we crave friendship and positive interactions, so it makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we’re going to be, and the more enjoyment we get out of being in the workplace. The other benefits are that people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement, while we’re more innovative and creative.
What’s more, good relationships give us freedom. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming the problems associated with negative relationships, we can instead focus on opportunities.
… it makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we’re going to be, and the more enjoyment we get out of being in the workplace.
It is also necessary, if we hope to develop our careers, to get people to help us along the way. After all, if you don’t build bridges with people, especially people of influence, it’s unlikely that you will be considered if a new position or opportunity opens up.
Good working relationships with others in our professional circle are also essential. Customers, suppliers and key stakeholders are all critical to our success and that of the organization we are involved in.
Defining a good relationship
Some of the characteristics we should look at when evaluating the relationships around us are trust, mutual respect, mindfulness and welcoming diversity.
I would like to focus particularly on mindfulness and welcoming diversity. The concept of mindfulness is taking responsibility for your words and actions and how they affect the people around you. Always monitor your state of mind or emotions and take care not to allow whatever demons you are facing on a particular day to affect those important relationships.
When you welcome diversity, you not only accept diverse people and opinions, you welcome them. They all form part of your decision-making and engagement within the circle you have created and benefit from.
Should good relationships be strategic?
All interaction is important, however, there are certain relationships that deserve extra attention.
For instance, there is a benefit in developing good relationships with key stakeholders in your organization. These are the people who have a say in your success or failure. Forming a bond with them will help you ensure that your projects and career stay on track. Create a list of colleagues who have an interest in your projects and career and in turn dedicate quality time in forging a mutually beneficial exchange with them that, over time, can be a win-win for both parties.
‘… there is a benefit in developing good relationships with key stakeholders in your organization. These are the people who have a say in your success or failure.’
Clients and customers are another group who deserve extra attention. Although you may not be able to keep everyone happy 100 percent of the time, maintaining honest, trusting relationships with your customers can help you ensure that if things go right or wrong, the damage is kept to a minimum. Good relationships with clients and customers can also lead to extra sales, career advancement, and a more rewarding life.
So how do you build good work relationships?
Good relationships start with good people skills. You spend so much time in school developing hard skills to help you ascend in your career, no time is spent on developing ‘soft skills’ such as collaboration, communication and conflict resolution, all uniquely important in creating the work environment that will help you thrive and succeed in the life and career that you want.
Have you ever asked yourself: “What do I need from others?” “What do they need from me?” Some dedicated time in answering these questions would be well worth your while in better understanding the parties involved in this strategic alliance building model.
Take time and make the effort to build strong relationships. Pop into someone’s office, even if it’s just for five minutes. Reply to something they posted on Twitter or LinkedIn. That way, they know you’re connected with them no matter what. Or the proverbial “hey let’s get a cup of coffee together”. This way you get some face-to-face time mixed into your social media interaction.
‘… ‘soft skills’ such as collaboration, communication and conflict resolution… will help you thrive and succeed in the life and career that you want.’
However, remember that in order for these relationships to remain healthy and fruitful, boundaries need to be set and managed regularly. By sharpening your emotional intelligence (EI) you are better able to assess your emotions and more importantly those of others within the context of boundaries.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”. Never is this more applicable than when dealing with gossip, especially office gossip. This is a major relationship killer. If you are experiencing conflict with someone in the office speak to them directly, rather than compromising your trustworthiness and integrity with others in the workplace.
Remember to listen actively when speaking to colleagues and customers. People respond best when they feel you are truly interested in what they have to say. This will lead to you to be more and more recognized as someone who can be trusted and entrusted with some crucial information.
‘Remember to listen actively when speaking to colleagues and customers. People respond best when they feel you are truly interested in what they have to say.’
Should you have the occasion to work with someone whom you intuitively don’t like, take the time to get to know them. You don’t have to like each other, but you do have to respect each other for the sake of being in the same work environment. It is essential you maintain a professional relationship with them. Never mind who makes the first move, be proactive for the greater good. This will ensure a more collaborative work environment by focusing on things you have in common, instead of your differences.
The things that make us different sometimes also make us the same. Everyone, without exception wants to be heard, liked and respected. How we achieve this sometimes is not an obvious path. The key to remember is that we are all trying to figure the same things out. It’s all about strategic thinking, but more importantly, achievement and outcome.
Image: via StockPholio.com
Angela Civitella, a certified management business coach with more than 20 years of proven ability as a negotiator, strategist, and problem-solver creates sound and solid synergies with those in quest of improving their leadership and team building skills. You can reach Angela at 514 254-2400 • linkedin.com/in/angelacivitella/ • intinde.com • @intinde