Humans are social species and thus have an inherent need for social connection. This applies to different areas of life, including work, where we spend most of our time or one-third of our lives.
Strong social connections at work are said to make employees healthier and happier. This can then translate to better productivity and overall work performance.
Here’s how to build healthy workplace relationships and how therapy can be beneficial.
What are workplace relationships?
Workplace relationships refer to the interactions you have and the connections you build with your co-workers. They are not created equal, as some will help develop your career, while others will either increase or decrease your stress levels.
Building healthy relationships in the workplace increases your likelihood of success and greater satisfaction at work.
Relationships at work can also be professional or personal. The former solely exists because of your job and helps propel your career. The latter, meanwhile, exists for a social reason and ensues due to your basic need for connection and a sense of belonging.
There are also cases where employees will have a mix of personal and professional relationships.
Why is it important to build healthy workplace relationships?
Good working relationships are more than about getting along or being able to stand a colleague. As employees spend the majority of their time at an office, working relationships can impact their well-being.
These can positively and negatively affect not just your productivity and stress levels, but also your eagerness to come to work and general sense of happiness.
Here are the benefits and importance of relationships in the workplace:
- Increased happiness
- Low stress levels
- More engagement and loyalty
- Better physical health
- Higher employee retention rates
- Increased career satisfaction
What are the elements of a good working relationship?
Healthy workplace relationships require several elements/characteristics. These include:
- Trust – When there is trust between team members, honesty and transparency follow. It allows people to feel safe and valued, which is essential in creating a positive relationship.
- Respect – Mutual respect means valuing one another’s ideas, input, and opinions. This increases not just productivity and collaboration but also reduces workplace stress and conflict.
- Inclusion – This means embracing, accepting, and welcoming diverse ideas and talents. It helps create an inclusive environment and a sense of belonging that can improve employee engagement and help a company thrive.
- Open communication – Honest communication builds trust and promotes teamwork and friendships. When you know how to effectively communicate on emails, video calls, or face-to-face interactions, you’re likely to connect better with everyone around you.
- Self-awareness – This refers to knowing your own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and presence. Being self-aware means being able to take responsibility for your words and actions, and understanding yourself and others better, so you can make sound decisions.
How to build a healthy workplace relationship
Making close connections and building healthy relationships in the workplace take time. Here are a few things that can help:
1. Develop your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence or EI (also called emotional intelligence quotient or EQ) refers to the ability to know, understand, and manage your own emotions. It can help you empathize with your co-workers, communicate effectively, defuse conflicts, and overcome challenges.
This can then allow you to effectively handle stressful situations and make better decisions at work.
By developing your EI or EQ, you can build stronger relationships and achieve both your professional and personal goals. You will also become more adept at recognizing the needs and feelings of others, which is essential in leading and inspiring employees and excelling in your career.
2. Schedule time to build and develop relationships
You’ll find it a lot easier to connect or get to know your colleagues by scheduling time for building healthy relationships in the workplace. You can lay the groundwork with little interactions like initiating conversations during the break, commenting on a co-worker’s LinkedIn or Twitter posts, or even inviting them for a quick cup of coffee.
You can also:
- Suggest a work activity outside the office
- Get lunch together
- Talk about what you have in common
- Support your colleagues to help them achieve their goals
- Pay attention or listen when they open up
3. Set and maintain boundaries
While it is important to bond well with others, this shouldn’t take much of your time. It is advisable to set healthy boundaries and keep a certain amount of time for social interactions. Do take note that these interactions can negatively affect your performance and productivity, especially when an overly social colleague starts to take over most of your valuable time.
Here are a few helpful tips for setting boundaries with work friends:
- Define and communicate your boundaries. Clarify to them what is acceptable and what is not
- Don’t overshare
- Don’t gossip or bad-mouth your boss
- Be realistic about the dynamics of your relationship. It doesn’t have to be as intimate or meaningful as your other relationships.
4. Listen actively
Active listening means focusing intently on the speaker to understand their message or what they’re trying to convey. This helps make sure that you’ll be able to engage and communicate later on and recall important information without having to ask again.
By talking less and listening more, you’ll be able to acquire enough details to understand people and situations before responding.
One important technique in being a more effective listener is to show them that you’re actually listening. You can do this by looking at the speaker, nodding, providing feedback or asking questions, and making sure that your posture is open.
Make it your goal to just pay attention instead of preparing for a response or a rebuttal.
5. Appreciate others
Showing genuine appreciation to your peers and colleagues is one of the best ways to build a good working relationship. Always appreciate and recognize the efforts of a co-worker who helps you out. Give praises and compliments when they do well, and say thank you for their hard work and contributions.
Other benefits of workplace appreciation include:
- Improves productivity
- Improves employee morale
- Creates better self-esteem and good feelings
- Helps build loyalty
6. Focus on the positives and avoid gossiping
Showcasing positivity allows you to connect and bond with others better. Being positive is also contagious and people tend to gravitate to those who make them feel good. Besides, no one likes to be around or spend time with someone who has a pessimistic outlook on life.
One important component of being positive is avoiding gossiping. Do take note that gossip and office politics destroy relationships and negatively affect the work environment. This is why if you have a conflict with someone, speak with them directly and try to resolve the issue in a constructive way.
How therapy or counseling can help
Personal and professional relationships in the workplace are not always smooth sailing. In such cases, counseling and therapy can help. Speaking with a mental health professional enables you to understand yourself and others better to navigate your work environment and relationships more smoothly.
It will also help identify your strengths and weaknesses and develop a clear sense of your goals and values.
There is also the benefit of identifying your stressors and coming up with responses to reduce their impact on your work. Therapy can help you manage stress better, change unhealthy behaviors, and maintain a work-life balance to avoid burnout.
Here are the other ways therapy can be beneficial:
- Strengthen or improve communication skills
- Set and maintain healthy boundaries
- Identify what you need to do to be more productive
- Deal with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
Workplace relationships can affect your mental, emotional, and physical health. If the one you have is negative or needs improvement, the aforementioned tips can help.
Don’t hesitate to take online therapy on Calmerry and see a mental health professional to help you build better personal and working relationships.
You can find out about online therapy more here.