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Building positive relationships with colleagues, managers and other associates is important no matter what industry you work in, or where you stand in the company hierarchy. There are a variety of simple techniques you can use to help you improve your interpersonal skills and professional relationships.
Deliver What Your Promise
Work relationships aren’t always personal, and some of the people you work with will never be more than business contacts. That said, you should always meet your commitments, regardless of whether you are close to a co-worker, customer, vendor or other professional. Make it a point to deliver exactly what you say you’ll deliver, and deliver it on time. Waiting until the last minute to meet a deadline, or missing it altogether, makes is seem like you don’t care about the needs of others. Keep track of your commitments and make sure people get what they expect from you.
Let Them Know You Notice
When your peers accomplish something, let them know. Send an email, give a shout-out in the hallway or pop your head into someone’s office to give a congratulatory remark. This shows that you are a team player who cares about others rather than someone only interested in his own success.
Respect People’s Time
While you might be caught up with your workload, that doesn’t mean others are. Being sociable is an important part of developing relationships in the workplace, but stopping by someone’s office to chat can backfire on you if you do it too frequently or when someone is busy. Be mindful of personal interactions from a time standpoint. Look for cues as to whether or not your presence is welcome. If you sense that someone is busy or behind, let them focus on their work. Better yet, offer to pitch in if you have time available.
Lack of communication or miscommunications can damage almost any relationship. Take the time to make sure your written messages are clear, specific and free of errors. Review the who, what, why, when, where and how of each message to ensure you have covered everything. Show respect for co-workers by spell-checking and proofreading your internal emails, memos and other documents. Asking for confirmation when you deliver messages lets you know that your message has been received. If someone has a question, make yourself available to answer it as soon as possible.
If You Can’t Say Something Nice…
Gossip can come back to bite you in a number of ways. Even if a negative comment never gets back to an individual you’re discussing, if your co-workers see you trashing their peers, they might start to wonder if you’re doing the same to them. It's best to keep negative feelings about others to yourself. If you have a specific problem with a co-worker, approach him or your manager about it, but don't discuss it out in the open with others. Avoid negative talk, even if it only involves moaning about traffic, complaining about your lunch or sharing problems from home.
Look for ways to spend time with co-workers outside of work, such as going to lunch or having a drink after work. It can be awkward blending your work and personal life, but a once-in-a-while outing with your co-workers can build positive relationships and a sense of camaraderie.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.