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How to Build Effective Personal Relationships in the Workplace

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Whether you work part-time or are pushing 60 hours a week at your job, you should look at your co-workers as something more than strangers. Building personal relationships in the workplace allows you to work together more effectively with your co-workers and surrounds you with friends while clocked in. Creating and growing relationships calls for excellent communication, a little positivity and a dash of kindness.

Talk to your co-workers. Strike up a conversation with someone in the breakroom or grab lunch with your cubicle neighbor. Talk to your co-workers when there's downtime, tell stories and jokes or talk about the crazy weather outside. If you're a manager, walk the floor occasionally and ask your employees how their day is going or if they need something. A small amount of communication can break the ice and start a friendly relationship.

Help out your co-workers. No one is perfect, and everyone struggles from time to time. Instead of ignoring a co-worker's distress or waiting for someone else to jump in, lend a hand. Maybe a co-worker needs to extract information from reports and enter the information into a spreadsheet, but he's falling way behind. If you have a bit of free time, offer to look over some of the reports and write down the necessary information so he can quickly add it to the spreadsheet. Anything you can do to foster a sense of camaraderie will help strengthen your workplace relationships. This is especially important when you have a new co-worker.

Offer ways for your co-workers to improve. Pointing out that your co-worker sounds a bit timid and unsure of himself while pitching a sale isn't harsh or mean. If it's a valid criticism, he needs to know. But don't harp on the negatives. Tell him what he's doing wrong and suggest ways he can improve. Take a sincere and positive approach. This is in the same vein as helping someone out. You're helping the person in question improve by pointing out his flaws and explaining how he can better himself. It shows that you care.

Congratulate your co-workers when appropriate. It's easy to drift off into a jaded state of mind when a co-worker gets a promotion or a raise, and you don't, or if he was recognized for his accomplishments by management, but you weren't. Keep your disappointment hidden and congratulate your co-workers for their achievements and rewards instead.

Communicate with your co-workers about problems. If you have a co-worker who bothers you, talk to him about it. Maybe he plays music too loudly from his computer, or he offends you with the way he talks about certain subjects. You'll improve your relationship indirectly by laying out the problem in a calm manner. If you say nothing, you'll continue to find your co-worker's behavior irritating and obnoxious, and those feelings often fester over time until little annoyances become completely aggravating.

Bring loyalty and trust to the workplace. Show up to work consistently and don't take credit for something multiple people had a hand in. Avoid talking behind someone's back, even if you don't have a great relationship with that person, and when you make a promise to someone, keep it.


If you're in management, promises sometimes inevitably get broken. You might tell an employee he can have Tuesday off in two weeks, and then two employees quit and another gets sick. If you have a small staff, it may be impossible to keep that promise. In those cases, apologize and explain the circumstances to the employee face-to-face. Remember to approach criticism with understanding and positivity. Never call colleagues out for their failures only. Address their successes and suggest ways to improve on their weaknesses.


About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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