Relationships are important to the human experience. They are enriching, challenging and completely needed for an individual to learn and grow positively. There are many different types of relationships that we build over the years. As students who are looking out for a career opportunity, you must have built some very strong relationships in school and college. Now, as you get ready to step into your professional life, you must be wondering how do successful relationships work in professional environments.
Clearly, they are a whole different ball game but the fundamentals remain the same, just like any other relationship – “do good for others without expecting anything in return”. In order to give you an idea about how you can build successful relationships, we have some crucial points for you to consider.
Transparency is important in any kind of relationship. Transparency is even more essential in a workplace environment where you and your colleagues have shared responsibilities which can affect other people such as your colleagues, your customers and clients. You should strive to be as transparent as possible with your colleagues and your customers. Hiding things from people and trying to get things done via the back door might make sense but in the long run, these practices are not healthy. They create an environment of distrust.
A completely transparent relationship leads to the building of trust. When it comes to business, trust is an important currency. Large amounts of money, responsibilities and services are involved in transactions. These can be easier if people can trust you. You don’t really have any shortcuts towards achieving that kind of trust with another person. The only way trust is built is over the positive things that you do and how consistently you do it. Good professional relationships have a healthy amount of trust riding between them. The more trustworthy you become, the better your prospects get over time. Just make sure you always strive to keep building that trust among your peers.
3. Mutual Respect
As you become more trustworthy and keep doing the right things in your organization, you will get respect from your peers. You can bask in this all you want but do not let it become a one way street. Respect needs to be accrued on both sides. Make sure that you respect your colleagues for the work they are doing and the way they help you out when you are in a jam. Awesome colleagues become even more awesome over shared positive and negative experiences. You bond with them and they become your friends. Value this friendship. Your colleagues are human too! All the standard human decency rules apply here even though this might be your office.
4. Embracing diversity
There might be a chance that your upbringing has only made you interact with a select slice of humanity. With college, this generally gets resolved but work gives you the full exposure to the many, many different kinds of people who exist. It might not be easy to adjust initially because students tend to cement some sort of a fixed outlook based on limited sampling in college and school.
The key here is to be as open minded as possible and try to understand each person and not judge them based on some superficial qualities that you see. Accept that there are many kinds of people and they might not necessarily have the same values as you. This acceptance is important because as colleagues, you need to work with everyone involved to take your organization forward. Spend some time with everyone and get to know them better. It is possible that your rigid perspective (if it exists) might change over time.
5. Empathetic outlook
Work tends to be seen as a place where only logic and processes reign supreme. This is not really true. We should not forget that emotions are also important to the working life, as are logic and efficiency. Ultimately, as humans we are prone to various emotions and blocking them out just because of the work environment may not be healthy for the person as well as the organization on the whole.
Empathy is crucial in the workplace. Like the saying goes, “Everyone is fighting a hard battle, so be kind”. As we take up responsibilities, life doesn’t get any easier for anyone. Being understanding of your colleagues and their situations can go a long way. Do not be emotionally unavailable to a person that needs your help and support. Go out of your way to help them out and understand their problems.
6. Make time
Relationships only grow if you invest in them. Similarly, in professional relationships you need to invest time and effort to help them grow. Spend some time catching up with your colleagues about their work and life. If you have a lot of things in common with many of your colleagues, then hang out with them regularly. This does not just apply to your colleagues at office. You can also work on your relationships with your clients in the same way. Drop in a mail once in a while enquiring about how they are doing. Take an interest in the career progression and happenings of people you like.
The office environment is never really going to be a chilled out one all the time. There will be many moments of stress, negativity, personal problems, blunders, confrontations and so on.. This is not unusual. This happens all the time when you are trying to build value together and working towards something great. Whenever these moments come by, understand that negativity is temporary and it will pass. Be positive about everything. Pessimism never really gets you anything, especially in a productive environment. Work towards creating a positive frame of mind and see things as they are. It is very easy to go down the negativity slope but limiting beliefs are a bigger problem when you want to achieve something great. Try being positive instead.
8. Respecting boundaries
Professional relationships have boundaries. You cannot expect your colleagues to be like your college friends. They have their own lives and their own priorities. Make sure that you respect that. Not everyone will be willing to join in on your weekend movie plans and other outings. Learn to be okay with that. Secondly, do not partake in any kind of office gossip. Gossip is detrimental to the organization as well as your professional relationships. Words spreads fast and if you are known as a gossiper then all the trust that you have built will be in vain. Be polite to your colleagues and do not try to glance into their personal lives unless you share a personal rapport with them.
9. Learn to have fun together
Work hard but have tonnes of fun. Organize activities, go out for drinks and have movie screenings in office (if it is allowed). It is not uncommon to find people who have bonded so well with each other over these activities that they have become close friends.
I have been fortunate to know many awesome people at my previous organizations. These positive relationships you make at your workplace have a potential to last a lifetime and you never know where they might take you 🙂