Don't forget the important role relationship building can play in career advancement

These days, most people understand just how important teamwork is to any company's success. A dedicated group of professionals working toward a common goal will almost always be able to achieve more than any one person can accomplish on their own. But what does it take to create and maintain the type of interpersonal relationships that every effective team needs? What type of relationship building skills are required to establish a truly collaborative and productive work environment?

In this post, we'll explore the concept of relationship building and explain why it's so important for business success. We'll also consider some important skills and tips you can use when creating relationships in your workplace.

Why workplace relationships matter

Obviously, companies need their employees to have strong relationships with each other and with management. A lack of harmony can lead to conflict, resentment, tribalism, and a loss of focus and productivity. That's why so many organizations focus on developing strong teams that encourage collaboration and unity.

However, it's also important to note the important role that those strong workplace relationships can play in your career success. When you take the time to build strong relationships with coworkers and superiors, you can enjoy benefits like:

  • Greater skill development, including vital soft skills

  • An expanded network of contacts who can help to advance your career in the future

  • The constructive criticism you need to improve your performance

  • Positive feedback that can drive you to greater heights of success

  • Less workplace stress, that can lead to greater productivity and improved results

  • Improved problem-solving that relies on a team rather than your individual mind

The fact is that you can't do everything that a company needs done all on your own. To be truly effective, you need to be able to rely on the combined efforts of your entire team, trusting each of them to fulfill their unique role in a way that helps to achieve collective goals. That approach only works when your workplace relationships are healthy, strong, and productive.

What is relationship building?

Relationship building is just what it sounds like: the process of creating and strengthening relationships with other people. Obviously, this is something that almost everybody does in various areas of their lives as they make friends, develop familial bonds, and find romantic partners. At the same time, however, this relationship building process is equally vital in the workplace. Human beings have an almost instinctive need to forge bonds with the people in their lives.

By taking the time to work on developing these relationships, you can help to create a more positive culture in your workplace. Focusing on improving the bonds between you and your colleagues, leaders, managers, and clients can make you more engaged in your job, improve your performance, and lead to greater contentment and happiness in every area of life.

Key relationship building skills you need to develop

Like other worthwhile endeavors, effective relationship building requires certain skills and the right mindset. Creating relationships that go beyond the level of mere acquaintance is not always an easy task, but you can learn how to build a good relationship by taking the time to master those skills. To help you achieve that goal, we've compiled a list of some key relationship building skills you need to learn.

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills you can have when you want to learn how to build a good relationship. Have you ever noticed how some people seem drawn to good listeners who show a real interest in what other people are saying and feeling? Chances are, those listeners are using active listening skills in their conversations with others.

To develop this skill, focus on really listening to what others say rather than just hearing the words. Make good eye contact, reflect their message back to them to ensure that you understand their meaning, and ask relevant questions that demonstrate your interest in the conversation. People tend to trust those who make a real effort to understand them, and that trust is vital for any relationship building exercise.


Without effective communication, human relationships can never reach their full potential. When it comes to developing relationships, though, you need more than just words. You also need to listen to what others say, effectively use and read body language, and show respect for their concerns and ideas.


Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to how other people are feeling at any given time. Given that human beings are inherently emotional, it's easy to understand why empathy can play such a powerful role in the development of any relationship. When you can demonstrate that you understand what others are going through, and that you care about them as people, they are more likely to extend that same level of care to you.


Have you ever watched a sports team filled with athletes who had personal problems with one another? Resentment, jealousy, and other negative emotions can make it hard for any group of people to succeed as a team. The same holds true when you're trying to build relationships with others. You need to be focused on showing them respect, helping them where necessary, and communicating in a positive way to ensure that you forge the strongest possible team.

Conflict resolution

One key skill that can help you to develop relationships in the workplace is conflict resolution. Conflicts invariably erupt from time to time, due to things like misunderstandings, disagreements over decisions, lingering resentments, and clashes between different personalities. By developing your conflict resolution skills, you can earn a reputation for being a trusted intermediary who helps to maintain a harmonious work environment. That can lead to stronger relationships with everyone on your team.

Emotional intelligence

In addition to being able to read and empathize with others' emotions, you also need to have awareness and control over your own emotions. By being able to recognize how you feel, and channeling those emotions in a positive way as you interact with others, you can more effectively communicate with an array of different personalities, forge deep connections with your colleagues, and help them to overcome workplace challenges.

Tips to help you with building strong relationships

While those skills will help you in your relationship building efforts, you still need to employ them in a strategic way to maximize their effectiveness. Here are four important tips you can use to develop your ability to forge strong relationships at work:

1.      Cast a wide net

Believe it or not, there are advantages to building relationships with almost anyone at work, from senior management and leadership to service staff and interns. You never know which relationships will end up being the most important for your career advancement, so take the time to make connections with people at every level of the company. Treat interns and cleaning staff with the same level of interest and empathy that you extend to your boss and office colleagues.

Developing that kind of solid reputation can pay dividends throughout your career, with benefits that far outweigh any potential time or effort you might invest. Be reliable and helpful to everyone and show them all the same type of respect and concern. Remember, your real personality is reflected in how you act when you think nobody's watching, so strive to be the type of person that people want to connect with.

2.      Make the first move

There's nothing quite like a proactive approach to relationship building. Never be afraid to offer your assistance, provide others with the benefit of your knowledge and insight, or simply lend an ear to a coworker who needs to vent. Don't wait for others to come to you. Take the initiative and reach out to them if you want to lay the foundation for a good working relationship.

3.      Do what you say you'll do

When you make a commitment, honor it. Failing to do so can cause others to see you as unreliable, could result in a loss of trust, and can create barriers to any deeper connection. Of course, that also means that you need to learn your own limits to ensure that you never take on more than you can handle.

4.      Focus on the positive

Nobody wants to build a working relationship with a negative influence that drags them down. That's one of many good reasons why you should always try to focus on being a positive force within your workplace. Avoid gossip and hurtful comments, commit to working hard, and strive to make a positive impression on everyone you meet. That positive mindset will help to ensure that others are drawn to you, making it easier to build lasting relationships.

Effective relationship building can fuel your career success

Few people ever reach their full potential on their own. Almost everyone needs strong relationships to maximize their potential and achieve success. By learning the secrets of effective relationship building, you can forge the workplace connections you need to reach your career goals.

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