The importance of building positive relationships at work is one of those things we know is important, but can often get lost in the daily hustle of over flowing to-do lists. Strong professional relationships not only contribute to a harmonious work environment but also play a crucial role in personal and organisational success.
We know from our 2023 research, which looked at the experiences of more than 1200 women, that the number one thing that women say they need to thrive at work is a good relationship with their manager. We also know that investing in positive relationships at work is one of the key ways to create more meaning and purpose.
The Importance of Positive Relationships at Work
The impacts of focusing on relationships with the people you work with are many. Here are a few key benefits to be aware of:
Enhanced Collaboration: Positive relationships foster a sense of trust and open communication. When people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns, collaboration becomes more effective, leading to improved problem-solving and innovation.
Increased Job Satisfaction: Building positive relationships at work can make your job more enjoyable. When you have friends at work and feel supported by your peers, you’re more likely to look forward to coming to the office each day. In fact, research by Martin Seligman shows that positive relationships with others are the best antidote to life’s challenges and the most reliable source of joy.
Career Advancement: Networking and forming positive relationships with colleagues can open doors to new opportunities. Whether it’s a mentor, a sponsor, or a partnership, these connections are vital in advancing your career.
Stress Reduction: A supportive network of colleagues can be a valuable source of emotional support during challenging times. Sharing your concerns with trusted coworkers can reduce stress and contribute to a healthier work-life balance. This happens on a physiological level as well. Positive relationships at work produce oxytocin in the body, which among other things reduces cortisol levels and protects the body against the negative effects of stress.
More Meaning: Investing in positive relationships at work is one of 4 evidence-based ways to create more meaning at work. Spend some time reflecting on the meaning that comes from your positive relationships at work and how you can invest more of your time and energy in those relationships.
10 Ways to Build Positive Relationships at Work
1) Effective Communication: Communication is the foundation of any positive relationship. Practice active listening, ask for feedback, and be open to receiving it. Avoid making assumptions and strive to communicate clearly and respectfully.
2) Build Trust: Trust is the bedrock of any strong relationship. Be reliable, keep your promises, and maintain confidentiality when needed. Trust takes time to build but can be easily eroded, so handle it with care.
3) Show Appreciation: Expressing gratitude and appreciation can go a long way in building positive relationships. Recognise and acknowledge your colleagues’ contributions and achievements, both publicly and privately.
4) Be a Team Player: Actively participate in team activities, offer your assistance, and be willing to collaborate. A team player mindset demonstrates your commitment to the collective success of the group.
5) Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are inevitable in any workplace, but how they’re handled can determine the health of your relationships. Address conflicts calmly and professionally, focusing on finding solutions rather than assigning blame.
6) Empathy: Show empathy towards your colleagues. Try to understand their perspectives and feelings, especially in difficult situations. This can create a supportive atmosphere where people feel heard and valued.
7) Networking: Expand your professional network both inside and outside your organisation. Attend industry events, join professional groups, and connect with colleagues on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Networking can lead to valuable connections and opportunities.
8) Mentorship: Seek out mentors or offer to mentor others. Mentorship relationships can provide guidance, encouragement, and personal growth for both parties involved.
9) Balance Personal and Professional Boundaries: While building relationships is important, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy balance between your personal and professional life. Respect your colleagues’ boundaries and set your own as well.
10) Continuous Learning: Stay curious and open to learning from your colleagues. Everyone brings unique experiences and expertise to the table. Be willing to share your knowledge and learn from others in return.
Building positive relationships at work requires ongoing effort and commitment. However, the rewards, both personally and professionally, make it well worth the investment.