How to Build Relationships at Work in 7 Easy Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 December 2022

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Good relationships in the workplace are very important for a successful career. When you build positive relationships with your colleagues and superiors, you may notice you're more productive and happy at work. By learning how to build relationships with your coworkers, you can increase your emotional intelligence and get to know them better, leading to long-lasting professional relationships. In this article, we explore how to build relationships at work, explain why it's important and discuss which factors are essential when building relationships.

Related: Interview Question: 'Describe Your Working Relationship With Coworkers'

How to build relationships at work

You can follow these steps when learning how to build relationships at work:

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are can help you manage your expectations when you start to build relationships with your colleagues. Consider which interpersonal skills you already have and which areas you want to improve on so you can focus on those when communicating with your colleagues. Other skills like active listening, conflict resolution and communication can also help you build better relationships. To start, you can evaluate your emotional intelligence (EI) to better understand and recognise your own emotions.

In doing so, you can better identify the needs of yourself and others. Knowing your EI involves:

  • Self-awareness: Self-awareness is the ability to know your own wants and needs in the workplace and your personal life.

  • Self-regulation: Self-regulation is the ability to control your thoughts, emotions and reactions.

  • Empathy: Empathy is an important trait that includes understanding what another person is experiencing in life.

  • Social skills: Social skills, like teamwork, communication, problem-solving and conflict management, are important to use when building relationships.

Related: 10 Important Social Skills to Have (Definition and Examples)

2. Practise active listening

To communicate with others, it's important to first be able to listen to them. People may respond better to you if you take the time to listen to what they have to say. When you listen actively, you listen first before talking, leading to a better understanding of other people's wants and needs. Listening also helps people see you as more trustworthy, as people know that you can listen to and understand them instead of being quick to judge or respond. To practise active listening, try to make eye contact and ask questions to clarify information.

Related: What Is Active Listening? With Tips for Improvement

3. Make time to build relationships

Your daily responsibilities at your workplace may keep you busy and focused on your tasks, but you can make time to get to know your colleagues. Asking your colleagues out for lunch can help you get to know them better. Little interactions, like asking someone how their day was or saying goodbye when you're leaving the office, can also build the foundation of stronger workplace relationships.

During meetings, you can schedule a quick five to 10 minutes to catch up before you begin to ask your team how they're doing. In some workplaces, attending team bonding or after-work events can also help to build relationships at work.

Related: Colleague vs. Coworker (Plus Definitions And Examples)

4. Manage your boundaries

Whenever you make time to connect with your colleagues, consider limiting your social interaction to what makes you comfortable. When you spend a lot of time building relationships in the workplace, it can also affect your productivity. You may find that you enjoy socialising on your lunch break or after work, but prefer to focus most of your attention on your tasks during work hours. It's also important to be aware of other people's boundaries, so consider their body language and be respectful of their time.

5. Appreciate your teammates

A little appreciation can go a long way in building relationships at work. No matter what role someone holds, everyone wants to feel that they're appreciated at work. Paying someone a genuine compliment when they perform well at work can make them feel happy and appreciated. Recognising and praising someone is a powerful relationship builder that can develop better relationships with your colleagues.

Related: How To Praise Someone Professionally (36 Ways You Can Do It)

6. Keep a positive environment

Maintaining a positive environment leads to building positive relationships because it improves everyone's mood in the office, leading to better job satisfaction. Positivity can also spread easily, as people tend to spend more time with others they find approachable and friendly. Positivity can also help you and your team get through tough challenges together because you can stay optimistic in any situation. If you're experiencing any workplace conflict, it may be better to communicate with them directly to resolve the issue and maintain a healthy work environment.

Related: What Is Conflict Resolution? (With Methods and Examples)

7. Ask for and offer help

Knowing when to ask for help can be a way to start building relationships in the office. When you ask your colleagues for help with a project or task, you're getting the opportunity to connect with them and work with them. It's important to assist them when they ask for help as well.

Good working relationships often require giving and taking. When you help to take the burden of a challenging task off your colleagues, they are likely to appreciate and trust you more. If you notice a colleague struggling in the workplace and have the time to help, consider offering your assistance to them. This can lead to your colleague trusting you as you're showing that you're always ready to offer support.

Related: Relationship-Building Skills: Definitions and Examples

Why is building relationships in the workplace important?

Relationships at your workplace are the daily interactions you have with your coworkers, whether during meetings or lunch breaks. When you build relationships with your colleagues and team members, you're more likely to enjoy going to work every day to see and work with them. Building positive relationships in the workplace can also lead to success in your career, as it's greatly linked to networking.

Forming relationships with your colleagues can lead to them encouraging you and collaborating on projects so that you succeed together. Maintaining these relationships if you move to another position or company can build your overall professional network and can provide more professional opportunities. Some benefits of building workplace relationships may include:

  • better satisfaction with your job and overall career path

  • more comfortable environment with your teammates during work meetings and presentations

  • increased productivity for you and everyone within the workplace

  • moral support and encouragement between teammates through challenging times

Related: How to Build Good Working Relationships (Plus Tips)

What makes a good relationship in the workplace?

A good workplace relationship requires trust, mutual respect, inclusion, self-awareness and communication. Here are five important factors to consider when learning how to build relationships at work:

Trust

Trust between teammates is important because being able to rely on them during challenging times can help you with your career. Trusting your colleagues is one of the most important factors in building great professional relationships. When you trust each other, you can be honest and open about your actions and thoughts within the workplace and support each other.

Mutual respect

Mutual respect is important, especially when it comes to understanding and accepting each other in the workplace. If you and your colleagues show respect to each other, you may form better relationships with each other and understand the roles that you have in the workplace better. Teams who respect each other also value each other's views and values and find solutions together.

Inclusion

Inclusion means accepting everyone in your workplace, regardless of their opinions or background. When you include and accept your colleagues, even if you have different values and opinions, you may find positive values in them that you never knew existed. This leads to you working better with them, as you may understand each other better and how each other works. Inclusion also leads to better teamwork because you and your colleagues can discuss opinions and strategies when collaborating.

Related: What Is Diversity and Inclusion and How Do You Show It?

Self-awareness

When you're self-aware, you take responsibility for what you do and say. This is an important aspect of your workplace interactions because it helps you consider how your actions affect others. Self-awareness can involve being considerate of what you say to ensure everyone around you feels comfortable and included.

Communication

Most good working relationships start with honest and open communication. Whether you're conversing in person, through video calls or with emails, effective communication can help you connect with your coworkers better, leading to better relationships in the office. Getting to know your colleagues better by communicating with them can also be one of the first steps towards a positive working relationship.

Related: 15 Ways on How to Communicate Effectively at the Workplace

Explore more articles