3 Steps to Strengthening Professional Relationships

Do you ever get that feeling of dread when you have to talk to your boss, an employee or have a team meeting? Is there that person that you avoid talking to because you just don’t see eye to eye?

A work environment and the relationships that we encounter in that space can be either a pleasure or a living hell. Some people just don’t get you, how you operate and all the ideas that you have to make things better, more efficient, and easier overall. Some of us get frustrated when we are misunderstood and made to sound incompetent because someone else didn’t get what we were saying. Some of us get so anxious about the next interaction we’re going to have that we actively avoid certain people and particular meetings, we put in a lot of effort to come up with excuses to stay away. Some of us feel that we are inadequate when we take a comment personally from someone we respect, or we want them to think we’ve done well because we’ve worked our fingers to the bone on a project. Some of us stay awake at night because we worry, stressing ourselves out about what will happen if we can’t get our message through.

There are many reasons why relationships in the workplace are an important thing to get right. Companies spend thousands of pounds on getting their staff to be better communicators and after a while even that doesn’t work! As more employees go on courses and trainings they pick up on the ‘scripts’ that previous peers and management have been taught, then they feel like they are being talked down to in every interaction where those scripts are used after that course. This counteracts the training that people have had because they find those interactions condescending and staged. I personally hate the ‘scripts’ that people bring out and you can spot them a mile off. All emotion leaves their voice and the words are regurgitated in a monotone drone. The stock phrases are used over and over and over and people use words and phrases that don’t fit with their personality at all! The staff that go on these training courses more often than not recite what the trainer has said instead of implementing the learnings and building the ethos of the training into what they already do. As a result, no rapport is created, no connection is formed, no understanding, no results. It’s a temporary fix, nothing more.

Connection with people in your work environment is crucial. I’m not saying you need to buy each other dinner, curl up on a couch together and watch your favourite chick flick. But you do need to be able to talk to people, know where each other are coming from within that conversation and be able to understand the processes that need to take place to get results for both parties. That way you both know what you want and what the other person wants and you can create a win-win situation where you both fulfil your roles and build a more meaningful relationship.

So I want to go through 3 points that you could incorporate into your day-to-day communications if you’re not already using them. If you are doing these things then have a think whether you are really doing them in an effective way. A lot of people see building a connection as a checklist and rush through it and expect a lasting, positive relationship. Well, sorry to break it to you but that isn’t going to happen. There is no checklist, these are all points that need to be in motion at the same time to build and strengthen that business relationship over the duration of it.

  1. Talk to them like a person.

People regularly see people as a means to an end and consequently use them like machinery and discard them when they are done. Do yourself a favour and talk to them like a person not as an inconvenience in your way. We are now in the relationship age of business, people want to know people and build those relationships up both internally and externally of their company. If you don’t make that switch from the transactional way to the relationship way look could find yourself being viewed as callus and abrasive.

2. Talk on the same level as the people you’re dealing with.

We all operate and talk on different levels. Some of us love to talk through each step of a process so we know exactly what is going to happen. Others prefer to give us an overview and a synopsis of what we’re doing. If you are butting heads with someone try and make a mental note of how vague or specific they speak and see if it’s in the same ballpark. If not, then changing how you convey what needs to be done to match their operating level is a good shout. This is particularly powerful with interdepartmental teams as different roles in the hierarchy of an organisation lend themselves to different operating levels.

3. Don’t assume.

Have you ever gone into a meeting where you were thinking it was going to be like pulling teeth? How did that affect your mindset before you were even through the door? When we make an assumption about what is going to happen we behave differently to how we might have before. Now I’m not saying you’re all wrong in the assumptions that you’ve made, I’m just suggesting that you go into meetings and interactions with an open mind. Or better yet a win-win mentality. This way energy is put into working towards that mutual win rather than feeling like you need to defend your position throughout the entire meeting.

These are some of my top tips that consistently get results for myself and my clients. They might seem like obvious, little things but they all add up at the end of the day and that’s what counts.

How are these tips going to help you enhance what you’re already achieving?

Read one of our recent blogs on eliminating stress here.

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