Strong relationships have incredible benefits.
We live longer. We live healthier. We live fuller.
For many of us, work accounts for about a third of our lives. That’s obviously a lot. It’s too much time to avoid the benefits of forging strong relationships in the workplace.
And an added benefit of strong relationships at work is that when you feel better and your team feels better, you’re all likely to do better work. Both individually and as a team working for the betterment of the organization.
But it’s not always easy to build these relationships at work. We live in divisive times. Some would say we’re only halfway through a crisis.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t build strong relationships. For your benefit and for the benefit of those around you.
Here are a few tips for forging strong relationships at work…
#1. Expand Conversations
There are all kinds of little conversations that happen in the office. The usual small talk. Take it a step further by asking a few more questions when you’re at the water cooler.
How has your day been going?
What have you been working on today?
That’s a nice shirt, where did you get it?
Will this guarantee a strong relationship with everyone? Definitely not. But it will result in stronger connections with some people. It’s so easy to get stuck in the usual rut with certain people in the office.
Just a little nudge of more conversation as a habit can lead to some great things. Even potential lifelong friendships.
#2. Take The Learning Mindset
This one is difficult. It takes practice. It seems to get more difficult each year. Maybe it’s because we learn more every year and feel smarter and more accomplished.
I don’t know.
But it seems to work well to go into conversations with people looking to learn something from them. Or feeling that they have something helpful to add to your worldview.
Will it happen all the time?
It actually can. When you go into conversations thinking you know everything or that you’re absolute on all your feelings you’re not going to forge strong relationships.
#3. Say What You Feel
On a slightly similar vein is the ability to say what you feel. It is good to state what you feel and believe. Even with new people.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever change those thoughts.
It’s important to build a reputation for being straightforward and for having people know where you stand. It’s a leadership position and a stance that attracts people to you, whether they agree with you or not.
And you don’t have to do this in an arrogant way. You can be strong and still be open. You can be strong and still be kind.
#4. Identify Strengths
Yours and those of coworkers. Then work to enhance them.
We all like to do what we do well. Or somewhat well. A kid that picks up a ball and throws it pretty well the first time has a good chance to continue doing it.
If you grow up liking math and numbers, odds are good that your job will involve those things.
Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. When you’re building relationships at work, look to figure out your own strengths and those of your coworkers. Ask about those things. See if there is a way to work on projects that enhance the strengths of coworkers.
#5. Encourage, Be Kind & Grow The Pie
Vince Lombardi still casts a large shadow on the state of Wisconsin. The players that played for his Packers during the 1960s are starting to pass away, but most of them have said and continue to say that Lombardi’s best motivational tool was encouragement.
Yes, he would yell. Yes, he would push. But with almost every player he would tell them that they could be great. He would work to figure out what the player thought their ceiling was and then he would push them beyond that. And more often than not, the player would achieve greatness they never thought possible.
It’s also no surprise that many of Lombardi’s players would have successful second careers after their playing days were over. Something that doesn’t seem common.
Encourage coworkers. Be kind and positive.
Work is not a zero sum competition. You can grow the pie together and help everybody in the organization make more money.
We know the benefits of strong relationships at work. But it’s not something that comes naturally for us all. Especially for introverts like myself. But with a little effort and a little habit forming, you can really see positive results at work that will also bleed over to your personal life as well.