Relationship-Building Skills: Definitions and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 September 2022

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.

Building strong relationships at work is essential for group cohesion, collaboration and optimal productivity. Before you can have a robust and trusting relationship with other people at work, you require certain people skills. Knowing the essential skills you require to build rapport and enjoy a cordial professional relationship with colleagues can help you become a fun person to work with and allow you to leverage the skills and experiences of teammates to achieve collective and personal goals in the workplace. In this article, we explain what relationship-building skills are, outline several examples of these skills and provide tips to improve and use these competencies at work and during the job search.

Related: 25 People Skills for the Workplace Including Definition

What are relationship-building skills?

Relationship-building skills are soft skills that allow you to connect with other people and have meaningful interactions with them. In the workplace, it's essential to have good relationships with coworkers as everybody works as a group to achieve common goals. Having skills for building relationships makes it easier to collaborate on projects. These attributes can also strengthen team bonds, improve communication and help prevent conflicts and misunderstandings.

Related: How to Build Relationships at Work in 7 Easy Steps

Examples of relationship-building skills

The following are examples that can help you form strong connections with your colleagues and improve workplace camaraderie:

Verbal communication

Verbal communication is a vital skill for building relationships within and outside the workplace. You require effective verbal communication to build rapport with people and interact with them during meetings, presentations and project implementation. Being able to speak confidently allows you to take an active role during discussions, contribute your opinions and share ideas with your team. This makes you an important part of the team and shows other people you're also working towards helping the group achieve its goals.

Active listening

Unlike passive listening, active listening involves using all your senses while interacting with other people. It requires you to give other people the chance to share their opinions about a subject and take time to understand what they've shared before responding. Active listening involves maintaining eye contact with the speaker and demonstrating you're paying attention to what they're saying.

Being an active listener allows you to communicate more effectively because it requires you to slow down and understand the other person. This is essential as it reduces the chances of misinterpretations. It also makes your audience feel important because they get the chance to share their perspective on issues.

Related: What Is Active Listening? With Tips for Improvement

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills include several soft skills and personal attributes essential for building lasting relationships. One example of this is the ability to view issues from another person's perspective. Being respectful, showing compassion and being tolerant when people make mistakes or perform below expectations can also strengthen the group bond and create an atmosphere that encourages collaboration.

Empathy

Another important skill for building relationships is empathy. Being empathic requires the flexibility to accept differing opinions about a subject. This is important as the individual experiences, skills and backgrounds of people make them reach different conclusions about the same subject. Practising empathy allows you to accommodate the different views of colleagues before deliberating and reaching a consensus. This skill can help improve collaboration, and promote understanding and prevent conflict among team members.

Related: Empathic Skills: Definition and Examples (With Tips)

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions and interactions with other people. This type of intelligence is vital for building and managing relationships in the workplace and your private life because it allows you to assess situations properly before responding.

If you work in a competitive office environment, being emotionally intelligent can help you better understand workplace dynamics and determine the best way to interact with people to avoid conflict. For example, emotional intelligence can help you know when a person is angry about an issue and the appropriate way to approach them regarding a work issue.

Related: What Is Emotional Intelligence for Leaders? (Plus Importance)

Self-awareness

Being self-aware can also make it easy to build relationships at work. Assessing yourself to identify behaviours that might be detrimental to your relationship-building efforts can make you more likeable at work. Develop the ability to evaluate yourself critically so you know the behavioural changes to make to improve your relationships.

Conflict management

If you want to build professional relationships, it's essential to have conflict management skills. One important conflict management skill is being able to avoid confrontations. You can do this by maintaining a calm tone when speaking to people during tense situations. Taking responsibility and giving other people the chance to share their views about a disagreement can also help resolve conflicts. The readiness to collaborate and compromise is also important.

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

How to improve relationship-building skills

Here are strategies you can use to improve your skills:

1. Develop effective communication skills

An essential soft skill for building successful work relationships is communication. By developing effective communication skills, you can positively influence the way you interact with others. You might practise active listening and you can also develop your communication skills by seeking opportunities to join conversations or contribute to team meetings.

2. Practise empathy

Another key factor in successful business relationships is empathy. When you show empathy to your peers, you're showing them you care, understand their feelings and point of view and have respect for other people's ideas and emotions. Practising empathy can help improve your relationship with teammates and colleagues.

3. Develop your emotional intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence is another effective way to ensure you're building positive work relationships. You can develop your emotional intelligence by practising empathy, learning to understand your teammates' feelings and paying close attention to the dynamics in your workplace. Doing this can help increase your emotional awareness, both for your own feelings and those of your colleagues.

4. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback can be highly beneficial to your professional development. Communicating your desire to use advice for professional improvement shows that you're motivated to succeed in your job. It also shows that you're open to knowing about new ideas, learning new skills or are willing to improve. This can positively impact your relationship skills.

5. Get involved

Another way you can further develop your abilities is to get involved with different activities in your workplace. For instance, you might join a group of colleagues for coffee during lunch or join an informal meeting to provide insight to your other teammates. You can improve your relationship-building technique by getting involved with your coworkers and contributing to various activities going on in the office.

Relationship-building skills in the workplace

Here are tips for using skills for building relationships at work:

  • Make contributions. Contribute to your team as often as you can, including in new projects, team-building exercises and sharing ideas with your coworkers.

  • Resolve conflicts. Handle conflict openly and professionally, with clear communication and empathy so you can solve problems quickly and efficiently.

  • Focus on work-related discussions. Only entertain professional and work-related conversations to be productive and maintain a good reputation in your workplace.

  • Practise emotional intelligence. Practise positive emotional reactions and seek mentoring opportunities during times you receive constructive criticism from your supervisors.

  • Be helpful. Help your team and coworkers whenever they require your support. Be proactive by anticipating their needs and offering help.

How to highlight relationship-building skills

Here are ways to highlight your expertise in building relationships during the job search:

1. Relationship-building skills for a resume

To highlight your skills on your resume, you might consider matching your current skill sets to those outlined in the job requirements. For instance, if the job you're applying for requires working on a team, you might include your communication, teamwork and networking skills. Additionally, you might include examples of how these skills helped you succeed in past roles.

2. Relationship-building skills for a cover letter

In a cover letter, you might showcase your skills by connecting your skill sets with how you can be an asset to the organisation you're applying to. For instance, if the company you're interested in requires an effective networking expert, discuss how you helped your past company build stronger business networks. When writing a cover letter, focus on the core role-relevant skills and describe how you used them in previous roles to achieve specific results.

3. Relationship-building skills for an interview

During an interview, the interviewer could ask you questions regarding your teamwork skills, your ability to communicate effectively or the way your skill set contributed to your last company's successes. You might answer with examples of how your skill set helped you achieve a goal or meet an objective. In your answers, provide a situation where you used a specific skill, the positive results you achieved and the way that experience has prepared you for the employer's role.

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

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