Workplace Relationships: Building Connections Inside and Outside the Workplace​

How strong are your relationships with your colleagues at work? 

Though some people see themselves as fairly detached from their workplace, those who know how to develop strong professional relationships not only see more career opportunities, but are also generally happier and more productive. Building those connections takes time and effort though, so one must take a considered approach when reaching out to their colleagues. For those who put in the effort though, the results are personally and professionally fulfilling. 

Why Networking Matters

Building strong and lasting relationships takes a great deal of time and effort, but the benefits are hard to deny. On a personal level, building positive workplace relationships can go a long way towards improving your mood and making your job more enjoyable. Having good relationships with the people you work with can also have a positive impact on your productivity: not only does it make it easier to work as a team, but people who get along with their coworkers also tend to consciously and unconsciously work harder, as they enjoy their current situation and want their company to do well in the future. 

Strengthening your relationships with your workers can also have important professional benefits: working closely with other capable professionals is a good way to pick up new skills and experience, especially if you’re working with more experienced people. Also, remember the old phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Networking with your coworkers is a good way to create advocates who will vouch for you. Often, networking and a good reputation will take you further than your talent will

Building Workplace Relationships

The first step when looking to build up a workplace relationship is to figure out what exactly you’re looking for in the relationship in the first place. You should build your professional network with intention, so whether you’re looking for a mentor figure or simply want to reconnect with a colleague you’d worked with in the past, have a clear sense of what your goals are. 

When building professional relationships, it’s important to know how to read situations well, as well as how to open up enough to be able to cultivate real, meaningful relationships. Whatever your goals are, don’t be transactional about your attempts to reach out: nobody wants to feel like they’re being used. Additionally, be aware that building strong relationships takes time, so don’t push too hard. If you don’t respect people’s time or the boundaries, you risk coming across as invasive and could end up doing more harm than good. 

Connecting Outside of the Workplace

With the rise of remote and hybrid work, maintaining connections with colleagues and building positive relationships can be much more challenging, as you don’t necessarily have the benefit of seeing someone in person. If you or your colleagues are working remotely, it is important to put more effort into communicating, conducting frequent check-ins to keep open lines of communication in order to track progress, address concerns, and offer support where needed. Teams can also establish “rituals” to encourage communication, such as “virtual coffee breaks” where team members schedule recurring time slots to have casual online chats. 

Of course, even if you do see your coworkers in the office, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reach out to them outside of work. In fact, meeting up outside of the workplace is a great way to further your relationship. This can range from joining them on a lunch break to attending an official work event to inviting them to some outside activities. Moments like these aren’t frivolous either, as these types of casual interactions can also translate into better communication when working together. 

The Value of a Strong Relationship

Cultivating strong professional relationships isn’t always easy, as every workplace and every person is different. But like any other healthy relationship, a strong professional relationship has a lot to offer. Just remember that at the end of the day, you should approach your relationships with your coworkers with a sense of authenticity and a place of respect. 

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