How to Build Strong Work Relationships! 10 Essential Tips

Last Updated on May 25, 2022 by Milton Campbell

Table of Contents

Why Are Work Relationships Important?

Image of employees fist-bumping to build strong work relationships.

Building strong work relationships is critical because they affect your level of engagement at work, increase work satisfaction, and affect the quality of your job performance. If you enjoy your relationships at work, your productivity is higher than if you feel isolated and disconnected.

Work relationships affect performance in three main ways:

First, relationships allow for the effective sharing of knowledge and ideas within a team or department. When workers share knowledge, they can learn from each other and innovate more easily. They can also come up with solutions to problems that one individual may not have been able to solve on his or her own.

Relationships also allow for collaboration in problem-solving among teams. Collaboration speeds up the process of getting things done because more people can contribute their ideas. It also improves outcomes because people bring different perspectives to bear on the issue at hand.

Finally, good work relationships help solve conflicts before they escalate into larger issues that impact productivity or morale. Workplace conflict is very common, but it doesn’t have to be destructive. Most conflicts are actually driven by underlying communication issues.

Keep reading to learn how to build strong work relationships.

The Difference Between Personal and Professional Relationships in the Workplace

Work relationships are a combination of business and personal, and it is important to know the difference between the two. This understanding of the difference between personal and professional relationships will greatly enhance your work relationships.

Workplace relationships are much different from personal ones. There are boundaries that need to be enforced in order for each party involved to feel respected and valued. Overstepping these boundaries can lead to negative feelings toward the person who did so. Especially if that person was in a position of authority over you.

Personal relationships at work should not interfere with your work performance. Personal relationships at work should never involve one party exerting power over another party in an abusive way. Such as by saying or doing something that makes another person feel belittled or embarrassed.

Negative Relationships in the Workplace

Image of people arguing.

Have you ever been forced to work with someone that just rubbed you the wrong way? Chances are, you have. It is a hard time for everyone involved, and it can make work unbearable. It is important to know how to deal with these relationships and try to make them friendlier.

If you find yourself in a negative relationship at work, there are some things you can do to make the situation more tolerable.

Try Not to Take It Personally

This might be one of the hardest things that you will have to do if you want to improve your relationships with co-workers. There are certain people who seem to be negative toward everyone they work with, and not just you. If they are constantly berating other employees in front of you, chances are they will eventually say something about you too.

Some people thrive on drama and negativity, so they may enjoy creating it wherever they go. They have no control over this behavior, so it is pointless for you to get upset about it. Instead, try not taking their words personally so that they don’t affect your own mood at work or home.

Reach Out

If the person has made negative remarks toward you then it is okay for you to reach out. Have a conversation with this person. They may not even realize how they are acting or how it makes you feel.

If you can find a way to turn a negative relationship into a positive one, the whole team will benefit. 

Tips to Build Strong Work Relationships

Know Your Boundaries

For many, we spend a good majority of our lives at work and with the people we work with. Many times we build some of our best friendships with the people we work with. There’s nothing wrong with building these friendships but there needs to be a separation between personal and professional relationships.

Especially if you are in a position of power. Favoritism in the workplace can be extremely toxic. Avoid any forms of favoritism to keep your workplace a good environment.

Respect Others Boundaries

Just like you will have boundaries, others will too. Some people are more open than others. Especially when it comes to their personal lives. Respect the ones that don’t want to talk about their personal life at work.

Work On Your People Skills

It is not easy to build strong work relationships. Most of the time it is because of the lack of communication in the working environment. Lack of communication in an organization is one of the major reasons for team failure. It is very important to have good communication with your colleagues, subordinates, supervisors, and clients.

Communication skills are probably the single most important thing you can work on to build strong relationships. 

Have a Positive Mindset

Image of a sign that says good vibes.

Having a healthy mindset is vital to success. It’s important to have goals, but it’s also important to have the right attitude toward reaching those goals.

When you’re in a position of leadership, your attitude is contagious. If you’re positive, encouraging, and supportive, you’ll help bring out the best in others.

Constantly being negative on the other hand, will push people away. People gravitate toward people with a positive mindset. Especially when things aren’t going great.

Put In the Time

Building strong relationships doesn’t typically happen overnight. It takes time. It’s important to put in the time but don’t rush it. If you put in the time and effort it will pay dividends in the future.

Invite People Out

It’s easier to get to know someone if you invite them out.

If you go to lunch or coffee with someone, you can learn a lot about them in a relaxed way. It’s good for your friendships, and it makes work more fun.

Some people are nervous about inviting colleagues out. They’re worried that they’ll choose the wrong place. That people won’t come, or that they’ll get stuck with the bill.

But I think that these kinds of fears are easier to overcome than they seem. You can simply apologize in advance for any awkwardness you might cause. This takes away some fear of being social in a business context. People might even be relieved if you acknowledge the potential awkwardness of the situation upfront.

Be a Good Listener

Image of a lady holding her hand to her ear for listening.

Being a good listener is a vital skill to build strong work relationships.

In the business environment, effective listening is more important than giving feedback or even asking questions. It may seem that asking questions and making comments during a conversation would be more beneficial, but it’s not true.

Why do you need to listen more than you speak? Because people will only take the time to understand what you have to say if they feel their own ideas and opinions are considered. The more you listen, the more they will be open to hearing your suggestions and opinions.

So, how can you improve your listening skills? First of all, you need to pay attention to what the other person is saying. You can’t interrupt them or jump in with your opinion until they have finished speaking. Stay relaxed and focused on the subject of discussion. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by emotions like anxiety or anger. Which will make it difficult for you to understand what the speaker is trying to tell you.

Avoid Gossip

When building strong work relationships, don’t gossip or speak negatively about other people. Gossiping is a terrible habit, and it hurts your reputation in the long run.

Gossiping about other people’s behavior during lunch breaks, for example, may help you feel as though you are bonding with your co-workers. But it will also spread negativity about other people around the office. It may also make you look like a person who is willing to tear others down even behind their backs. This will only hurt you in the long run as others will see your behavior as disrespectful and unprofessional. They will lose faith in your ability to handle sensitive information.

Gossiping isn’t just about speaking ill of others. It can also be giving information about others that isn’t true. Whether you’re spreading rumors or telling the truth, gossiping is extremely damaging to employee morale and can cause huge problems at work.

If you feel like you need to talk about someone else, make it a point to only say positive things. Let them know that they’re appreciated and respected by the team and that you want them to succeed. That way, when you do have something critical to say, they’ll be more likely to listen.

Refusing to gossip will lead to stronger work relationships and a more harmonious environment overall.

Give Others The Credit They Deserve

In any work relationship, it’s important to give others the recognition they deserve. This might be a co-worker, a supervisor, a subordinate, a business partner, fellow members of an advisory board, or a volunteer team. The following tips can help you develop strong work relationships by giving the credit to other people:

1. Take time to appreciate others.

2. Acknowledge the efforts of others.

3. Be sincere when you praise others.

4. Make sure your praise is specific and deserved.

5. Praise in public as well as in private.

6. Don’t take credit for work done by others.

7. Give credit to those who deserve it.

8. Don’t be jealous if others get credit for your ideas.

9. Follow up on your compliment with action.

10. Give credit where it’s due.

As you implement these tips into your life, you will begin to notice that you have better work relationships. Those around you will benefit from your positive attitude!

Help Others See Their Value

Image of three employees talking and smiling.

You will make everyone happier if you help them see their value to you and the team.

It is easy to get caught up in what interests us and forget about the needs of others. But the needs of others are important too, and we can help each other fulfill them.

We can encourage others to take action by helping them see their own value. That way they are even more motivated to act. Understand that your job is not to tell people what to do. Your job is to help them realize what they want and how they can get it.

See Related: How to Achieve Personal Growth and Maximize Your Potential

Final Thoughts

Building strong work relationships is well worth the investment. Although we can be successful on our own, our ceiling is much higher with the help and support of a strong team. 

That’s what relationship building in the workplace is. You are building your team. Together you will be much stronger than separately. 

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