We spend a lot of time with the people we work with, whether we’re collaborating on projects, meeting about goals, or running into each other around the office — and getting along with them is important. Research shows that forming meaningful work relationships can increase our happiness, boost our productivity, and even help us find a sense of community at work.
But because everyone is so busy, it’s often difficult to make meaningful connections at our jobs. And sometimes after-work plans like happy hours or bowling outings can feel like more of a chore than a bonding experience. Still, it’s entirely possible to bond with your co-workers while at work. Here are three small gestures to help build stronger connections with colleagues:
Thank others regularly
Studies show that practicing gratitude at work has been found to boost resilience and reduce stress on the job — and most importantly, help strengthen our relationships with those around us. After completing a project, write an email to your whole team expressing your gratitude, or approach an individual and compliment them on how helpful they were throughout the process. It’s easy to forget the power of a simple “thank you” during a busy workday, but it goes a long way.
Ask how you can help
When everyone is busy with their own tasks, we can forget to give to others — and sometimes, the simple act of offering support can help you bond with your team. Make it a habit to regularly ask a colleague how you can help. When others see that you care about their time, they take notice, and it can often lead to deeper conversations, too. Plus, research shows that offering our time conveys the message that we respect the other person’s workload, and makes people more willing to return the favor in the future.
Swap digital exchanges for in-person conversations
It’s easy to hide behind our computer screens to communicate with one another efficiently (hello, Slack channels!) — but it’s also important to talk to your co-workers when you can. Instead of sending messages to your colleagues’ inbox, make a deliberate choice to swap some of those interactions for face-to-face conversations. When you approach someone at their desk to ask a question, you’ll find that other conversations spark more seamlessly, and you’ll build empathy in the process. Plus, you’ll probably resolve work matters more productively than if it were handled behind screens.
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