How to Build Strong Relationships at Work


Relationships in the workplace are as tricky as it is hard to figure out. The setting can be a breeding ground for healthy working relationships and even lifelong friendships. Yet at the same time, the uncertainty of its own rules when dealing with colleagues can cause some personalities to clash. The pressure of excelling and doing well on your work plus the potentially unhealthy competition can breed dislike and even pure hatred among employees.

Observe the rule of thumb

As in any relationships, there are no steadfast rules as to how to deal with people at work. The rule of thumb, of course, is to respect everyone.  Treat others the way you would like yourself to be treated. Acknowledging that people can be vastly different from you and that they come from different backgrounds can make it easier to tolerate and accept colleagues.

Strong Relationships Work

Stay professional, but still be a person

The hardest thing people complain at the workplace is the complexity of mixing professional and personal lives. It is normally very difficult to detach your professional from your personal. While it is true that you are in the office to work, it is inevitable that your personality will still surface.

Moreover, it is a big mistake that you should not mix the two. Appearing too professional and stiff can cause undue tension between colleagues leading to lowered productivity. On the other hand, too casual working relationships can render the office environment too relaxed, which can also lead to poor outputs. As such, it is best to have a healthy mix of professionalism and being comfortable. Striking a balance between the two will maintain the business-like feel in the workplace but at the same time still be comfortable cozy enough to keep the employees in high spirits.

Keep your distance

Concrete steps to ensure this are limiting small talk and conversations to breaks and your lunch hour. While it is not a cardinal sin to talk while working, letting it interrupt your supposed-to-be productive time means it is no longer advisable. This is the ultimate danger of becoming too close with a co-worker, as the relationship might inevitably spill to within work hours and not just after the shift.

Set limits

Given the ideal mix of the professional and personal, it is still important to set boundaries. For one, limit your relationships to after work hours or breaks. If it has started to affect your productivity, it is time to make some changes to an otherwise innocuous friendship.

There is no steadfast rule as to forming relationships with people who are not in the same level as you in the workplace. You can befriend your manager or the guy who takes out the trash. However, letting this personal friendship or romantic relationship spill over and interfere with professional functions is unprofessional. This is why it is not usually advisable to be overly close with a superior, as tension within the professional setting might affect personal relationships.

This is also why some organizations have a special policy when it comes to romantic relationships. This is quite acceptable as a couple’s problem often inevitably affected their working relationships, so it has become unwise to let them work in the same department or in a direct supervisory position.

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Filed Under: Work & Careers

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About the Author: Vanessa Page works a career counselor in one of the leading firms in Los Angeles. She is also a blogger and gives tips on how people can tackle their work and career issues. She has 8 years of experience in this field.

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