“Strive to be that rare individual who labors to serve others and what will you have? Little competition.” – Andrew Carnegie
I didn’t always understand the importance of cultivating relationships at work. Although I love people and am extroverted, I was often found in the early days of my career giving into perfectionism. I was so focused on doing the work, and doing it well, that I neglected cultivating relationships.
Apparently there’s a growing trend for many other people in the workplace to not invest in friendships. Lydia Dishman of Fast Company shares in her article, Why Having Friends at Work is So Important, that “Not only are we less likely to forge friendships in the office, we tend to eschew the niceties of interaction in favor of productivity.”
This sounds like me in my past work life – I didn’t think I had time to initiate coffees, lunches, or walks. I was so focused on productivity that I missed out on opportunities to become closer to the people in my company.
I bought into the erroneous assumption that if I took too much time away from achieving our organization’s goals (and my personal goals) something would fall through the cracks and everyone, especially me, would suffer.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to deepen relationships with colleagues. I just didn’t give myself permission to make these relationships a priority.
I have since changed my ways and am intentional to give more time, thoughtfulness, and effort in my relationships at work.
Mountains of research shows that we are happier, more productive, effective, and fulfilled when we make friends at work. Relationships are the foundation for just about any kind of happiness – so why wouldn’t it be so at work?!
Every relationship at your workplace is important. Everyone is valuable and worthy of a kind word, acknowledgement, and respect regardless of where they are on the career ladder.
And when the inevitable hard times come – disagreements, missed deadlines, product flaws, customer defections – you will find that problems can be solved and outcomes improved when you have a foundation of good relationships.
If you treat everyone as a potential friend, you will find that you make many.
The friendships you cultivate at work benefit not only you, but your whole team.
Good relationships have a ripple effect throughout a company and bring enjoyment that is essential to well-being and the collaboration that is essential to grow a business and a career.
Yes, relationships take time to build and grow, but with just a bit of effort you will find greater happiness, fulfillment, and the rewards of productivity by making friends at work.
Here are 6 ways to build better relationships at work – see if these relationship tips work for you:
1. Keep it simple
Invite a co-worker for coffee or to grab lunch. Or strike up a conversation with them in the lunchroom instead of dashing back to your desk.
2. Be helpful
Offer to take on an assignment outside of your immediate area of responsibility. You’ll learn a lot and build friendships at the same time.
In her article, 25 Simple Ways to Improve Your Relationships at Work, Joyce Marter says to, “Demonstrate thoughtfulness. Get out of your own head and be of service to others. Consider their feelings and experiences.”
3. Build trust
Build trust by following through on your commitments and communicating often throughout the process. Communication is key to every relationship.
In Five Strategies for Building Transparency in the Workplace, Jeanne Meister writes:
“For Millennials as well as members of the Gen Z generation, transparency and the ease of sharing knowledge and data is crucial to building trust in the workplace.”
4. Organize group fun
Every 3 – 4 months, I’ll invite 5 to 10 people out to catch up over a glass of wine. I include people I’d like to build relationships with – from colleagues, to people who I collaborate with on various projects including freelancers, partners, and others in my larger network.
Although not everyone can join in the fun, by extending the invitation, I have made a connection that strengthens the relationship of each person invited. This also has provided a way for all of us, whose work intersects, to build relationships.
As a working Mom with many demands on my time, I’m always looking for new ways to build relationships in the limited time available – so group events work well.
5. Do more meetings in person, while walking
Instead of writing that email, do a meeting while taking a walk. Legend has it that Steve Jobs preferred doing meetings this way. I find that a walk is more social and relational, and many of us think better while we’re walking. It builds a relationship in a way that other formats simply can’t match.
In her article, Why Walking Meetings Can Be Better Than Sitting Meetings, Emily Peck writes:
“Walking helps break down formalities, relaxes inhibitions and fosters camaraderie between colleagues — and less eye contact can fuel more personal conversation. Meeting on the go also minimizes distractions — no phones, no email, no texts, no colleagues interrupting you.”
6. Be encouraging
Our words are powerful. And everyone has positive qualities. So find something positive to say about a colleague today and tell them. It will echo throughout their day.
Make the effort to see everyone as valuable. John Maxwell, bestselling, global leadership expert practices and recommends the 101% principle:
“I look for the 1 thing I admire in them and give them 100% encouragement for it. It helps me to like them. It helps them to like me. And what else could be better for starting – and continuing – a relationship?”
You don’t need to be an extrovert to grow relationships. You just need to make a bit of effort.
How about you? Who can you get to know better? And what will you do to grow relationships this week?
This relationship tips article was quoted from Pocket Mentor mobile app which offers daily advice to help you move ahead in work and life. Start your free trial today!