How To Build Relationships at Work: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating positive relationships is an important skill that can help you in many career fields. Building and maintaining positive relationships can help you create a better company culture, increase your happiness and boost your productivity. Learning how to build relationships at work can help you create more effective connections with your colleagues. In this article, we discuss the steps and strategies you can take to develop positive working relationships.

Why is it important to build relationships at work?

Building relationships at work is an important part of succeeding in many career paths. Effective working relationships may have the following benefits:

  • Increased job satisfaction and retention: If you have strong relationships with your colleagues, you may feel happier at work, which can improve your overall job satisfaction. Also, higher job satisfaction may increase retention rates in your workplace, which can lead to a more positive and productive environment.

  • Improved performance during presentations: When you're connected to your colleagues, you may feel more comfortable and confident when leading presentations or conversations in front of a group.

  • Higher productivity: Positive relationships can lead to a more productive team. When you connect with your colleagues, you may collaborate more efficiently and work harder together.

  • Improved culture: You can help improve your workplace culture by developing strong working relationships. These connections may make you and your team members happy, which can motivate others and improve the culture.

Related: Essential Qualities of a Powerful Team Player

How to build relationships at work

Here are the steps you can take to help you build positive relationships at work:

1. Consider your personal skills

Before focusing on the development of new workplace relationships, it can be helpful to understand your skills and how you can use them to build relationships. Interpersonal skills are soft skills that can help you connect and communicate with others. The following skills and traits can help you develop workplace relationships:

  • Communication

  • Active listening

  • Respect

  • Integrity

  • Reliability

  • Empathy

  • Compassion

  • Teamwork

  • Conflict resolution

  • Self-awareness

  • Self-regulation

  • Problem-solving

Consider making a list of the skills you currently possess. You can use these strengths to help you build connections. For example, if you're compassionate, you can use this trait intentionally to make others feel welcome and respected. If you have a lot of experience working on a team, consider how you can apply your collaboration skills and techniques in the workplace.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Identify developing additional skills

Consider making a list of skills you would like to develop further to help you build relationships. Then you can create a plan to help you strengthen these skills. For example, if you want to further develop your conflict resolution skills, you may sign up for a training course or read a book on the subject. Developing your interpersonal skills can help you communicate more effectively and collaborate with others.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Schedule time to develop relationships

Building positive relationships in the workplace can take time, and it's important to make sure you leave time in the day for some interactions. Consider reviewing your daily or weekly schedule to find time where you could interact with others while still completing your responsibilities. By planning a specific time to develop relationships in advance, you can make it easier to get to know your colleagues.

You might schedule a time during lunch, during the first 10 minutes of your workday or as you're leaving the office at the end of the day. If you're leading a meeting or event, you might schedule the first five minutes for everyone to talk to one another. Additionally, many employers have after-work outings or team events which can be great for building workplace relationships. If your team offers these, consider attending to help you make new connections and strengthen existing ones.

4. Ask questions and listen attentively

Asking questions is an important part of relationship-building that can help you learn more about your colleagues. When you ask questions about your coworker's personal life, professional goals or daily needs, you can show them you're interested in them. Consider giving them an opportunity to share details about their life to start a conversation. Try to remember important details to show you listen well and care.

Also, by asking questions and encouraging open communication, you can show your communication skills. Asking questions is an important part of active listening. Your colleagues may come to you with concerns, celebrations or when they just need someone to listen if they think you're a good listening. This can help further strengthen your relationships.

Related: How To Improve Your Listening Skills (With Tips)

5. Offer help or guidance

Consider offering assistance when you can to help develop your connections. If you notice a colleague struggling to complete a project or task, consider providing guidance. For example, if they're a new colleague learning how to perform a task, you might share a resource or tip you use to complete similar tasks. If they have a strict deadline approaching, you may offer to help with a task if you have the time. Trust is an important part of building relationships and by helping coworkers when they need it most, you can show this quality.

6. Ask for assistance when needed

Asking for assistance can also help develop a workplace relationship. By asking coworkers to join in on projects or work tasks, you may have more opportunities to get to know them. When asking for help, consider the task and the time commitment to ensure you make a reasonable request. For example, if you have a quick question, you might ask a colleague while passing them in the hall. If you need help with a longer project, you may want to speak with a manager to get their advice.

7. Show your appreciation

Appreciation can help you develop existing relationships. When you're collaborating with someone on a project, try to show appreciation when they complete a task for your group. When someone helps you, answers a question or sends you something, consider thanking them to show you appreciate them.

Also, consider your colleagues who work on different teams or in different roles and how they assist you. For example, in a customer service role, you might interact with your personal team frequently, but consider who else helps you complete your tasks. For instance, the technology team might help create a functioning system for you and the office administrator might handle your schedule. Consider thanking these people to help show you appreciate what they do for your team.

8. Focus on the positives

You may work with colleagues with unique personalities, communication preferences and working styles. This can occasionally lead to differing opinions. If you disagree with a team member, remember you both have the same objective and want your team to succeed. Returning to these shared beliefs can help keep interactions positive.

If you do experience a challenge at work, try to collaborate with others to come up with solutions or compromises. By working together productively and professionally, you may find you develop a new sense of appreciation for your coworkers, which can help you build your relationships.

9. Value your commitments

Reliability is an important part of a successful relationship, and you can help show you're reliable by valuing your commitments. For example, if you offer to complete a task on a certain date, you can stay reliable by completing the task on time. If you're finding it difficult to keep a certain commitment, try to communicate this as early as possible to your team. For example, if you volunteered to lead an event and you become ill on the day of the event, tell your team members as soon as possible so they can create a new plan.

Another way you can value your commitments is by being honest about your availability. If a team member asks you to help with something and you have a busy week, be honest about your availability. This way, they can find someone else to help.

10. Show others you value their time

Consider showing others you respect them by valuing their time. One way to show you value someone's time is to arrive promptly. If you have a team meeting, try to arrive at the designated time or a few minutes early to show your colleagues your know their time is important.

Another way to show you value someone's time is by remaining present throughout the day. In conversations, you can show you're present by listening attentively without multi-tasking. For example, if you're typing an email at lunch and someone comes into your office to talk, let them know you need a minute to finish the email first if it's important. Alternatively, you could pause your typing to have a brief conversation. This can help show you respect for others, which is an important part of an effective relationship.

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