8 Essential Steps For Building Relationships at Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 September 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Positive relationships in the workplace are an integral part of your career and can significantly increase your satisfaction at work. Building relationships with your co-workers may take some time and effort, but it can increase the productivity of your whole team and make the workplace fun for everyone. There are many ways to achieve that, including understanding the emotional needs of your co-workers. In this article, we list eight steps to building relationships at work, explore why it's important to get to know your co-workers well and explain essential elements of any healthy work relationship.

Related: Forming Relationships With Work Colleagues

8 steps to building relationships at work

Here are eight important steps to consider if you're building relationships at work:

1. Get to know yourself

Getting to know yourself is an important step in building good relationships at work because it allows you to notice the things about yourself that you can work on improving. This may include weaknesses that make communicating with others difficult at times. It's also important to evaluate your strengths to know what positive things you can bring to the workplace.

2. Introduce yourself

If you're starting a new job and want to make sure your new co-workers have a chance to get to know you, be sure to introduce yourself to them one by one during your first week at the company. Doing this is a sign of openness. It can also position yourself as an engaged and excited new hire who's willing to put in the efforts to understand their work culture better.

3. Schedule time to develop relationships

If you work in a busy environment, scheduling time to develop relationships with co-workers might be a good idea. Sometimes, having even 10 minutes to talk to each other and share important updates about your lives can let others know that you care about them. For example, you can propose that your team goes out to get lunch together one day per week. This technique may work really well also if there are multiple new hires at the company that you want to get to know.

4. Ask questions

Asking questions about your co-workers' lives may help you get to know them and understand them better. It's an important element of building relationships because it signals to the other person that you're genuinely interested in catching up with them and knowing their opinion. Be sure to practice active listening while they answer and ask follow-up questions. This can make conversations more meaningful and show your co-worker that you're there for them if they need someone to listen.

Related: How To Have Difficult Conversations at Work

5. Offer your help

Taking the burden off a co-worker when they are struggling with a task is a great way to build a healthy work relationship. If you notice that someone from your team is struggling or seems overworked, be sure to ask them about it and let them know you're willing to help. Even if you're not qualified to take over their duties, you can offer them your time or assistance. This can help you build trust and position yourself as a proactive co-worker who's ready to take an extra step to support others.

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6. Ask for help

Typically, a healthy relationship involves both offering assistance and asking for help when you need it. If you're the one struggling with something, consider asking someone from your department to help you. This way you have a chance to spend more time together and get to know them. Listening to their advice and using it to overcome difficulties at work may also show them that you appreciate their help and recognise their strengths.

7. Show gratitude

Showing gratitude may come in many forms. This may include sending them a quick thank-you email when they help you with something or getting them a symbolic gift for their birthday. Gratitude strengthens relationships because it's a sign of respect and shows the other person that you truly care about their wellbeing.

Related: How To Practice Gratitude While Working Remotely

8. Understand your colleagues' needs

To show initiative in getting to know a co-worker, you can try to understand their emotional needs. This may include not disturbing them during a certain time of day or only asking them questions in the afternoon when they're done with the most important tasks. Remember that everyone has their own ideal work schedule. For example, some people may prefer working in a dynamic environment, whereas others feel the most creative when working independently and can eliminate distractions.

Essential elements of a good relationship

To better understand your co-workers, review this list of essential elements that make up a healthy relationship:

Trust

Employees who can rely on their co-workers in day-to-day situations are typically less stressed at work and take smarter professional risks. This is because trusting your colleagues makes expressing themselves more comfortable for them. Similarly, if you'd like to build better relationships at work, be sure to prove to your co-workers that you're a trustworthy person that they can rely on in difficult situations.

Acceptance

Another important element of a successful work relationship is acceptance. If you accept your co-workers as they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses, it's easier for them to open up and share their ideas with you. Remember that accepting others is also about agreeing to disagree. In other words, it's about supporting each other no matter what and understanding how the differences between you can make your work relationship more successful.

Open communication

Communicating with your co-workers openly can help you quickly address issues that bother you and resolve them before they cause any stressful situations. It's an essential element of a healthy relationship because it makes you understand the other person's point of view. To nurture open communication, be sure to ask questions and get to know your colleagues better.

Related: 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

Teamwork

Teamwork skills are an essential part of good relationships at work because they help organise your team's work and deliver successful projects. People who work well within a team are typically more eager to help their co-workers. This may include supporting them while making important career decisions or getting together to find a creative solution to a work-related problem. If your colleagues know that you're ready to help them, they'll be more likely to support your ideas.

Why it's important to get to know your co-workers

Building professional relationships can help you advance your career and feel more comfortable in the workplace. Here are some common benefits of getting to know your co-workers:

Better work dynamic

If you know your co-workers well, you typically know what to expect from them at work. This often makes the whole team's work smoother and increases productivity. Similarly, if your co-workers know your strengths, they may assign you tasks that you enjoy completing. Working with people you know well also introduces an element of humour to your workplace, which may make even stressful situations easier to handle.

Networking

Building healthy relationships at work can sometimes help you with building your professional network. You never know when a co-worker that you get along with really well might put a good word for you or recommend your services to someone who'd be interested in recruiting you. This is why it's sometimes important to maintain good relationships with past colleagues and employers.

Related: Networking Tips for Job Seekers

Moral support

If you know that you've got someone at work that you can rely on, it's typically easier for you to overcome professional challenges. Their moral support can help you grow your career because you know that no matter what happens, there's someone who understands your motivation and goals. Supporting each other can also make your workdays more interesting and less stressful.

Increased career satisfaction

Building strong work relationships can significantly increase your career satisfaction. After putting a lot of effort into learning new skills and improving your qualifications, you're left with not only an interesting job and a high salary but also fantastic connections and people that inspire you. If you're satisfied with every aspect of your career, you may notice increased productivity and a confidence boost.

Increased comfort during presentations

Public speaking is one of the most common difficulties for employees in most industries. If you're someone who doesn't like delivering presentations, consider getting to know your co-workers better. Typically, it's easier to present your ideas in front of people you know well because you understand their intentions and feel they support you. If you're the one who's noticed that a co-worker is stressed when speaking up during important meetings, consider approaching them to show initiative and introduce them to other members of the team.

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