People Skills: Building Great Relationships
No matter how great of an individual someone may be, they’ll need others around them to unlock their full potential. This requires people skills and in particular, the skill to build relationships. Our ability to build relationships will ultimately determine our success both inside and outside of work.
However, much like any skill, developing great relationships takes time. With that in mind, here are several ways to build great relationships both inside and outside the workplace.
The idea of active listening has become a popular topic in recent years. But what actually is it, and how can you use it?
Active listening is the process of listening to actually understand the person speaking instead of simply listening to reply. It involves listening for the content someone is telling you, and the feelings they’re expressing while talking. It’s crucial to any relationship as it lets you build a sense of authenticity, in which you understand the other person's goals, perspectives, and needs.
In the workplace, this involves understanding your team objectives, issues encountered and setbacks you’ve had, as well as enjoying wins together. Outside this could involve listening to personal issues, celebrating life events, and simply sitting down over a coffee.
Take Notes Of What Others Like
There’s no better way to start a relationship than immediately remembering someone's name. But that’s just the start of building a relationship. If you want to build strong connections, then keep in mind important aspects about another individual's life. Maybe they have a dog they love. Maybe they have children. Maybe they have an interesting story about their travels. If you can show you not only listened to them, but also remembered what they were saying, you immediately create a bond.
But how do you know if someone is passionate about something? Active listening is a great place to start. If you see someone's face light up as they mention a particular event or person, it's extremely important to them.
If you struggle to remember the small things, keep a small notepad and record some notes after each interaction. Slowly, remembering the small details will become second nature.
Make Time For Everyone
While many people focus on impressing managers and directors, they can also discredit junior colleagues or even colleagues at their own level. This dismissive behaviour can damage relationships and even create a toxic work environment if left unchallenged.
However, teams talk. If management hears that a particular individual is looking down on other team members, it could significantly damage their progression. Instead of treating people based on their role within the business, make time for everyone and treat everyone with the same level of respect.
By making time for all your peers, you build a reputation as not just a respectful team member, but also someone that can be approached- a huge skill when it comes to managing others. This will help you build long-lasting professional relationships and can significantly help with career development.
Be Willing To Open Up To Others
We’ve all had that one manager nobody knows anything about. Although they could be the kindest person in the world, they often come across as intimidating and a little daunting to approach. While they may be great at what they do, they may not always have the best relationships around the workplace.
To build strong relationships you need to be able to open up and share with others when appropriate. Now, this doesn’t mean sharing your life story with someone you’ve just met. However, opening up to others creates depth in the relationship and can help create a strong working environment. This means sharing feelings of joy, excitement, frustration, and disappointment, as well as stories to show you understand what the other person is going through.
Be Proactive When Helping Others
Everyone remembers the busy bee in the team. No matter what needs doing, they’ll get it done on time and to the highest standard. This should be your approach when helping others. Always be looking for ways to add value to projects, and don’t just wait around to be told what to do. If you have a big gap in your schedule and see your teammate struggling, offer to help out. If you see a task that needs doing, but nobody is available, tackle it yourself.
At the same time, make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin. The last thing you want is to burn out yourself or miss deadlines because you’re too busy helping others. However, doing the odd job here and there will not only make you a valuable member of the team, but will improve your relationships too.
Have A Positive Mindset
A key aspect of any relationship is positivity. If you’re constantly bringing others down, then you’ll struggle to build relationships. Try to bring a positive spin to life in the office without sounding condescending.
If the team is struggling with a problem, help them find a solution. If someone has come to you with a personal issue, talk it through with them. If group energy is low, find a way to bring everyone up (sweet treats often do the trick).
The more positive energy you can bring to a room, the better your relationships will be. This is true both in the workplace and outside, and will also help you become happier as a person.
Great Relationships Are Key To A Successful Career
Building strong working relationships with colleagues, stakeholders and clients is key to your career progression and will also impact your overall happiness at a job. If you love who you spend time around, you’re going to enjoy the workplace no matter how hard the work can be.
Your relationships will also help you feel more engaged and needed as a team member, which naturally opens new doors to career progression and promotions. While not everyone is naturally a “people person” we can all learn the skills required to build strong relationships, it may just take some people longer than others.