How to Develop Positive Work Relationships

Three Methods:Building RelationshipsDoing Your Job WellEnjoying the Benefits

Work relationships are important for building a career and finding satisfaction in your job. To learn how to develop positive work relationships, you must be willing to listen to co-workers, communicate openly, and respect yourself and your co-workers. Building positive work relationships also involves compromising and getting to know co-workers as individuals.There are many benefits of forming positive work relationships. There are several steps you can take to create a positive work environment.

Method 1
Building Relationships

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    Communicate effectively. The foundation of every good relationship is solid communication. Whether you are communicating via e-mail, phone, or face to face, you want to make sure that you communicate clearly and effectively with your colleagues. Good relationships rely on open, honest communication.[1]
    • Choose your words carefully. Make sure that you clearly articulate your points and state exactly what you mean. This will help avoid confusion about goals or expectations.
    • Listen actively. Communication includes listening. Demonstrate to your co-workers that you are paying attention by asking follow up questions and paraphrasing some of their statements.
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    Appreciate diversity. It is important to remember that everyone is different. Each person that you work with brings a different attribute to your workplace. While they might not be the type of person you are used to, try to focus on their positive characteristics.[2]
    • For example, you might not be used to working with members of a creative team. Creatives tend to work differently from others, which sometimes means they are not as structured. Instead of being irritated when someone does not immediately reply to your e-mail, remember that they are bringing something else to the team.
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    Develop mutual respect. Mutual respect means that you exhibit respect for your colleagues and they reciprocate. Find ways to show that you truly value your colleagues contribution to your workplace. Let them know that you consider them (and their work) important.[3]
    • One way to demonstrate respect is to offer positive affirmations. For example, you could say, "Sally, I really admire the way you handled yourself with that difficult client. Not everyone can remain so calm under pressure."
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    Be mindful. Being mindful means practicing a deeper level of awareness. Pay careful attention to your words and your actions. If you act or speak without thinking, you might be damaging work relationships without even realizing it. Try thinking about your words before you actually say them.[4]
    • Take a 30 second break each hour. You can do this right at your desk. Take some time to reflect on how your day has gone so far, and what you have coming up next. Give some thought to how you will handle your next challenge.
    • Being mindful will not only help you feel more in control, it will make you look calm and collected to your co-workers.
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    Get to know your co-workers. One of the best ways to build positive relationships is to make time to learn about people. The next time you are early to a meeting, take a minute to chat with those around you. Small talk might not seem like much, but it can actually help you discover things that you have in common with your office mates.[5]
    • Ask questions. People like to talk about themselves, so ask how their kid's birthday party was, or if they are enjoying their new puppy.

Method 2
Doing Your Job Well

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    Act responsibly. If you want your colleagues to like and respect you, you need to make sure that you are doing your job well. No one appreciates a co-worker who shirks their responsibilities. Make a point to finish your work on time.
    • Be sure to demonstrate that you are responsible. If you agree to do something, make sure that you complete that task. For example, if your cubicle mate asks you to attend a meeting for her, make sure that you show up.
    • Acting responsible includes taking responsibility for your actions. For example, if you make an error, don't try to hide it or shift blame to someone else. Acknowledge your mistake and make it clear that you will fix it.
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    Be reliable. One way to excel at your job is to show others that you are someone they can depend on. There are many ways that you can demonstrate your reliability. It can be as simple as showing up on time every day, or as big as volunteering to lead the team on a new project.[6]
    • Make sure that your co-workers know that they can trust you. For example, you can update them on your progress by saying, "Sam, I just wanted to let you know that I've followed through on those e-mails you wanted me to send. Let me know if you'd like me to do anything else to help you out."
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    Have a positive attitude. Sometimes it can be difficult to be in a good mood when you're at work. After all, there is usually something else that you would rather be doing. But remember that no one likes to be around negativity. Try to display a positive attitude, even if you are feeling stressed or unhappy.
    • Smile. The simple act of smiling shows that you have a good attitude. Bonus: when you smile, you will actually start to feel happier.
    • Take a deep breath. Instead of expressing your frustrations with anger, take a few moments to breathe deeply and find something positive about the situation.
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    Cope with conflict. Unfortunately, you will sometimes have to deal with conflict in the workplace. If you handle it well, you can still build positive work relationships. When a problem arises, make sure to actively listen. Also, make sure to only address the situation after all parties have had a chance to cool down.[7]
    • Be proactive. For example, you could say, "John, I know there's been some tension between us lately. I wanted to know if there was anything I can do to make the situation better."

Method 3
Enjoying the Benefits

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    Be more creative. Having positive work relationships comes with a lot of benefits. One of the most important is that there will be more of a sense of teamwork in your office. This will foster activities such as brainstorming and collaboration. All of this leads to more creativity.
    • Getting along with your colleagues will help you to feel more comfortable and confident in the workplace. This will make you feel more confident about offering new solutions and innovations.
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    Like your job. The most obvious benefit of forming positive work relationships is that you will take more pleasure in your job. If you look forward to seeing your co-workers each day, the act of going to work each day becomes much less stressful. Positive relationships will also help you perform better and have less stress.[8]
    • If it is appropriate for your corporate culture, try organizing a monthly happy hour or other activity. Spending time together outside of work is a great way to bond.
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    Have a support system. It is important to have people who support you in the workplace. If you are overwhelmed with your workload, or you are having a conflict with your boss, it really helps to know that you are part of a team. If you have fostered positive relationships, you'll find that others are willing to help you out when you need it.
    • Make sure to return the favor and be helpful and supportive to those you work with.


  • Set boundaries, such as how much of your personal life you reveal at work. Be respectful of your co-worker's boundaries.
  • Be polite and courteous to co-workers. Express your gratitude when a co-worker assists you with a project or task.
  • Don't ignore on-going conflicts. Doing so will hurt your morale and interfere with your ability to do your job well. If you cannot resolve the conflict with your co-worker, discuss the problem with you direct supervisor or arrange to meet with a human resources representative.

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Categories: Interacting with Colleagues