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5 Ways to Foster Better Work Relationships

5 Ways to Foster Better Work Relationships

Andrew Beranbom -

5 Ways to Foster Better Work Relationships 

Do your office relationships resemble “The Office” television show? While it may be funny to watch, they are not necessarily healthy.

Or, perhaps you don’t interact with your co-workers at all? That may be equally unhealthy.

But, don’t worry. You don’t need to be the office party animal to cultivate positive relationships. Take a look at these tips to improve how you interact with others at work.

1. Peer to Peer Recognition

Do you appreciate it when your co-workers do something for you at work? Do they reciprocate in return?

According to one survey, almost 80% of the 200,000 people surveyed felt underappreciated at their job.[1] However, there are many benefits for showing peer-to-peer recognition.

Some workplaces have shown increased productivity and engagement. It may also help build stronger interpersonal relationships amongst colleagues.

Your employer can implement a peer-recognition program. Or, employees can give recognition on their own. Either way, celebrating each other’s successes can fortify relationships.

2.  Keep It Light, But Maintain Your Boundaries

Do you have an over-sharer at work? Are you the over-sharer? There are some things your colleagues don’t need to know about your personal life.

One of the best things you can do for workplace relationships is establish boundaries.

Keep your conversations light. Talk about work or projects. You can even talk about your weekend or hobbies.

However, you don’t want to share the latest gossip about your family. Nor, do you want it spread around the office how you got sloppy drunk last weekend.

Your solid boundaries will save everyone, including you, from those awkward silences and looks. And, it’s a good idea to keep work and personal stories separate until you get obvious clues otherwise.

However, when you receive signals that the other person is ready to share more- share away!

3. Keep Communication Open

How often do you talk to other people at work? Do you chat in the breakroom? Have informal lunch meetings?

Keeping the lines of communication open is another important aspect for fostering better work relationships. Build a strong sense of camaraderie.[2] Be supportive and listen actively to what others have to say.

Have meaningful conversations with others and share some personal stories. You can even support each other when stressful projects come up.

If you’re the boss, it’s even more important to open up lines of communication. Otherwise, you run the risk of employees feeling unsupported and alienated.

Ways you can keep lines of communication open include:[3]

  • Informal lunch meetings

You can use this time to talk about quick updates. Or, do informal check-ins.

Just make sure that everyone knows that it is informal. It’s less stressful that way.

  • Visit employees once a week, one on one

In addition, make it a point to drop by once a week to talk to your employees. It doesn’t need to be an hour-long meeting. You both are probably very busy.

But, keep it quick and informal. It’s just supposed to be a check-in, so keep it at that level.

  • Use an open-door policy

Sometimes your employees don’t have anything to say during check-ins. However, if something suddenly comes up, be open to employees coming to you as issues arise.

This way you may also cut down on instances of office gossip. The less time an issue has to fester, the less time there is to complain to other employees.

4. Take Some Time for Yourself

Do you stare at your computer screen all day? Or, run from meeting to meeting?

Sometimes the best office relationships start with taking care of yourself. If you don’t take breaks every now and then, you will be cranky. And stressed out.

And, no one wants to talk to you if you have a perpetual scowl on your face.

But, there are a few things you can do to help.

  • Workout to de-stress after work

No one wants to smell you after your workout at the office gym. But, if you can squeeze time in before or after work, it will do wonders for your disposition.

  • Take breaks regularly

Even short breaks to get a cup of water or refill your coffee. Take some time to decompress. And, while you are at it, say “hi” to your office neighbor.

  • Don’t skip out on meals

Your energy takes a dip when you don’t eat. So, make sure to eat regularly. When you are feeling good, your co-workers will pick up on that and be more likely to talk to you.

If you can take lunch breaks together, it would be even better. You kill two birds with one stone. Eating and conversation gives you the energy you need while strengthening office relationships.

5. Define and Prioritize Your Network

Take a look around your office. How many of your co-workers do you talk to? How many do you have positive relationships with?

Another way to foster better work relationships is figuring out your network. Prioritize what you want for each type of relationship.

Do you want info sharing with one person? And, maybe support from another? Maybe you’d like a mentoring relationship with someone higher up?

Since one person can’t be everything for you, dividing your needs up is less stressful for everyone. And, it helps you define and find the direction you want your relationships to go.

This also goes both ways, though. If you want constant feedback from your officemate, be willing to reciprocate if they need it.

Also, be flexible with your network priorities. Sometimes the person you want info sharing from may not want the same relationship. And, that’s okay.

Respect their boundaries and find someone else.

The Bottom Line

If you like to hide at your desk until quitting time, you may be in trouble. In order to cultivate positive work relationships, you need to put yourself out there.

Don’t put yourself “all the way” out there. No one wants to see that. Have some boundaries, and respect everyone else’s boundaries.

However, you need to talk to other people. Start with a greeting. Ask how a project is going.

And, from there you will eventually build a support network that makes it just that much more pleasant to be at work.


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