How To Build Good Working Relationships at Work

Updated March 10, 2023

You probably have heard about the benefits of building good and solid relationships in the workplace. However, what may not be as clear is what exactly a working relationship entails, or how to even build one. Learning more about working relationships can help you collaborate better with your team and create a positive workplace atmosphere.

In this article, we’ll explain what working relationships are—specifically why good working relationships are important, plus provide tips on how to build and maintain effective relationships at work.

What is a working relationship?

Working relationships are the connections you form with coworkers, colleagues and managers in the workplace. Although the relationships you build with colleagues and managers may not be as intimate as those you have with family and friends, they are nonetheless crucial.

All jobs require interaction with others at some point. Even if you are a freelance writer who works solely online, you still need to build relationships with them to have a fulfilling work environment and excel at your job.

It is important to realize that a working relationship is different from a personal relationship. A personal relationship involves sharing emotions and personal truths, while a working relationship is a formal association and serves the specific purpose of ensuring good teamwork and productivity.

Related: Emotional Intelligence: Definition and Examples

The importance of working relationships

Building strong work relationships is one of the most important aspects of anybody's job. There are multiple reasons for this:

  • Effective teamwork: If team members have good working relationships, it will positively impact their work. Good relationships involve respect, communication and honesty, which can all be beneficial when working as a team.

  • Improved morale in the workplace: People with good working relationships tend to handle conflict effectively and treat each other with mutual respect and goodwill. In a work environment that promotes this kind of culture, employees typically are happier.

  • Increased productivity and work satisfaction: When people get along in the workspace and work effectively as team members, they are more productive. Improved productivity, in turn, leads to increased job satisfaction and motivation.

  • Improved personal growth: If you have good working relationships with your colleagues, you don't spend as much time handling interpersonal office challenges, so you can focus on professional development. Having good working relationships with senior staff also means that you can benefit from their knowledge and learn from mentors.

Related: What Is a Mentor?

How to build working relationships

Building strong relationships at work can take time and patience, but it produces excellent results. Here are some guidelines to follow when trying to improve your working relationships:

1. Communicate often

One of the most important aspects of relationship building is effective communication, which involves just as much listening as it does talking. This means that you should actively listen when a coworker or manager approaches you and consider their point of view before responding.

Apart from carefully considering the opinions of coworkers, you should also strive to understand their personal circumstances. For instance, if a colleague is experiencing a challenge in their personal life, it can be helpful to listen to them and be careful in your interactions. Also, take note of nonverbal communication, as this may offer valuable insight that words may not be able to convey.

2. Be consistent and trustworthy

Trust is a very important aspect of any relationship. If you make a promise to a team member, make sure you complete the task or duty in the given amount of time. You should also strive to demonstrate your trustworthiness by offering your support and help when team members need it.

Also, it's vital when building relationships that you act consistently. Building the trust of your colleagues and team members involves consistently acting in a trustworthy and supportive way.

Related: 10 Tips for How To Get Along With Coworkers

3. Avoid gossip

If you want to nurture positive relationships at work, it's best to avoid gossip. If you hear gossip about another coworker, don't take part, or try to change the subject.

If you have an issue with a fellow worker, first try to have a polite and honest conversation with that person. If this does not yield positive results, you can call a meeting with a superior and the colleague in question, so you can address the issue in a transparent and professional manner.

Read more: How To Avoid Work Gossip

4. Support fellow team members

One of the best ways to forge good relationships with fellow workers is to support them. If you are in a senior position, for instance, try to mentor and educate junior staff as best you can.

Always be complimentary toward your coworkers and focus on their achievements as opposed to their failures. By doing so, you will help to establish a culture of mutual support and goodwill in the workplace and will gain the respect and support of your coworkers.

Related: The Top 25 Qualities of a Good Coworker

5. Remain positive in interactions

When faced with deadlines or a stressful time at work, staying positive can help keep your team members motivated. Instead of expressing worry, you can encourage yourself and coworkers by offering positive insight and inspiration to continue working.

Keeping a positive demeanor can help you become the team members that others seek for assistance or guidance, building excellent working relationships.

6. Know company guidelines

It is important to know the unofficial rules and expectations involving working relationships. These boundaries may vary depending on the culture of a company. Some companies, for instance, may encourage a more casual work environment, whereas others may expect employees to act more formally.

You should always remember that working relationships are different from personal relationships. If you're unsure of the guidelines of your company, be professional at all times and inquire with the human resources department or with a trusted mentor or colleague.

Related: Professional Relationships: Types and Tips

7. Deliver quality work on time

Especially when on a team, the work that you complete directly affects your coworkers. If you want to build positive relationships, one of the best ways to do so is to produce quality work on time. This demonstrates not only that you are professional and good at what you do but also that you respect your coworkers and consider them when you perform your daily duties.

Image description

View from above of people working on laptops in small groups while sitting at oval tables.


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