For those of us with full-time jobs, our colleagues are the people we spend most of our time with. It’s important, both professionally and personally, to have healthy and positive relationships with the people we work with. For the most part, we don’t choose who we work with after the interview stage, and we’re obviously not always going to get along with everybody 100% of the time, but it’s important to make an effort to not let that get in the way of doing a good job. Here we look at how to cultivate good relationships in the workplace.
Why is it important to have good relationships?
We’re naturally social creatures, and we thrive from positive relationships and friendly interaction. The better our relationships are with the people around us, the happier and more productive we are.
It makes work a happier place
If we’re completely honest, not many of us would choose to be at work for 8 hours a day if we had the choice. However, for most of us jobs are essential; they gives us money to pay bills, buy nice things, and do fun things in our spare time. Some people are lucky enough to make their career out of something they truly love, but the majority of the time, that isn’t the case. Spending those 8 hours with people you get along with well and consider friends makes it so much nicer to be there.
Good relationships are essential for progress
A big part of working with other people is communication; if you can’t communicate well, you will most likely find it difficult to have success when it comes to career progression.
Some people are very much ‘business only’, meaning that they aren’t interested in cultivating relationships or being friendly, and usually don’t see their colleagues as anymore than competition. However, though they may be excellent at getting their job done efficiently because they don’t lose focus or have breaks to socialise, they won’t be popular with either their peers or their managers.
Though it’s not wise to tell your manager every last detail about your personal life, it does help to have a professional yet friendly relationship with them. You don’t need to be best friends - and it’s not really recommended - but letting your manager get to know you as a whole person rather than just an employee will benefit you in the long run. A good mix of respect and trust is important between you and your boss, and will benefit you when it comes to applying for a promotion, or asking for a raise.
It makes your job easier
Similar to the above, being friendly with your colleagues simply makes your life at work a lot easier; having a good relationship with somebody will make them more open to listening to your ideas, trusting you to take on important tasks, and helping you when you’re struggling. If you are antisocial at work and only talk strictly business, other people are less will be less inclined to lend a hand when you need one.
How to create good relationships in the workplace
It’s understandable that some days you will be stressed, and somebody may be to blame for making you feel like that. It’s tempting to grab your work friend and have a quick rant about an annoying colleague. However, this is a dangerous game. You may trust your work friend not to say anything, but you can never be 100% sure that the other person won’t find out what you’ve said about them. Chances are that if somebody is gossiping with you, they may be gossiping about you with somebody else. So try to steer clear of negative comments about colleagues.
If you do need to let off steam, wait until you get home and vent to a loved one. You may think they’ll find it boring or won’t understand because they don’t know the person you’re talking about, but this is a much safer way to let out your feelings, and not knowing the person means they’ll never hear what you’ve said.
If there is a big issue with a colleague that is affecting your work, it is best to go to them directly to discuss the issue. Do this in a calm, professional way, and don’t let emotions get the better of you; explain what the issue is, and try to work together to solve it and move on in a positive way. Most of the time the person will appreciate your honesty, and this will help improve your relationship moving forward.
When somebody has helped you or done something well, show them genuine appreciation and thank them for their hard work. Everybody likes to feel appreciated, and something as simple as a compliment on a job well done will boost somebody’s confidence, and foster a positive relationship.
Make yourself available
Some people are guilty of believing their time is more precious than other people’s, or that their job is more important. However, no matter what your role, you’re all working for the same company and towards the same goal. Make sure that you are approachable, and that people feel comfortable asking to speak to you, or asking you to help.
Sometimes somebody may come to you and ask you for something, and interrupt something that genuinely cannot wait. In this circumstance, apologise to the person asking for your help, and explain that what you’re doing can’t wait, but that you’ll make them a priority as soon as you’re finished. Always tell somebody you will make something a priority after you’ve finished your first one is much better than complaining that you don’t have time.
Try to see past differences
As we’ve mentioned, it’s inevitable that at some point in our career we will come across a colleague that we don’t get along with. There’s a number of different reasons for this, but it usually comes down to misunderstanding between two people. If you don’t understand each other and where you’re coming from, it is difficult to communicate and therefore you struggle to form a positive relationship.
The best way to combat this is to try to get to know the person, and try to understand them a little better. The more you know about somebody’s background and interests, the easier it will be to understand why they are who they are, and why they do what they do.
On the occasions that you have made an effort to get to know a colleague and you still can’t get along, it’s important to remain professional and polite. This way your relationship stays professional, and your personal feelings don’t affect your work.