Have a positive attitude. Be honest about who you are. Show others respect. Make a genuine effort to get to know people. Be patient - relationships take time.
With popular TV shows like Suits, Mad Men and The Office painting a vivid picture of what is, and more often, what isn’t acceptable workplace behaviour, many of us will have experienced some serious expectation vs. reality moments when we first entered the workforce.
And while our working lives might not be as entertaining or action-packed as we imagined them to be, the truth is, it’s where you’ll spend the large majority of your adult life, and it’s a prime opportunity for you to form valuable, lifelong connections that will have a real impact on your professional and personal life.
Here are 5 simple ways you can build better relationships with your co-workers:
1) Mind your mindset
The first and most important thing to bear in mind when forging relationships with people in your office is to have the right attitude. Be positive, acknowledge other people’s successes and achievements, and make an effort to show an interest in people from all different teams and levels within your organisation by opening up a two-way dialogue. Not only will this help people to connect better with you, it will also have a positive impact on your job performance.
2) Be yourself
The words ‘be yourself’ may come with first-day-at-school undertones, but it’s incredibly important to be honest about who you are as a person. Be proud of your personality, embrace your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses – this way people will see you for who you are and be much more likely to understand where you’re coming from.
On the other hand, avoid trying to suck up to the higher ups in hopes of gaining praise or attention. In the long run, it will only work against you.
3) Watch your language
When working in an office with people from all different backgrounds, it’s important to show everyone respect, and this starts by watching what you say.
And just to be clear, when we say “watch your language”, we’re not talking about profanity – that should be a given. We mean be mindful not to use language that might offend others.
This starts by trying your best not to make assumptions about people – such as automatically assuming someone’s background, beliefs system, experiences or views are the same as your own – because when you make assumptions about people, even if you keep your thoughts to yourself, these assumptions could easily come out in your choice of language.
4) Put yourself out there
Does your office have after work drinks, social outings, or the occasional team lunch? And do you make an effort to attend these events?
The truth is, you can’t complain about a lack of culture in your office if you’re not putting in the work, because a five minute conversation outside of the office is often more productive for relationship building than a 40 hour week of interaction with the same person.
If your work has little to no out-of-office outings, don’t be afraid to make the effort yourself. Invite a colleague or two out to lunch on a Friday, or see if anyone’s interested in a quick drink after work. It might seem small, but little efforts like this will act as a catalyst for a better, more social workplace culture.
5) Don’t take it too seriously
Building relationships in the workplace is important, but it’s often something that happens over time. If you make the effort to show people you care, and are willing to build relationships, then these relationships will happen when they happen – just be patient.
And if you don’t form the strong bond with your colleagues that you had initially hoped for, don’t let it get you down. In some jobs you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals that you form instant connections with, while in other jobs it might be painstakingly slow. But take solace in the fact that you’re being true to yourself and your own values, which at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.