How to Build Good Working Relationships: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 27, 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.

Most experienced professionals know how important it is to cultivate and maintain positive workplace relationships. It may not always be clear what a working relationship entails or how to establish one. Learning more about working relationships can help you collaborate with your team more effectively and foster a positive work environment. In this article, we discuss what working relationships are, review how to build good working relationships, explore why they are important, and highlight how to manage challenging relationships at work.

What is a working relationship?

Working relationships are the connections you form in the workplace with colleagues, clients, external vendors, and supervisors. Although your relationships with colleagues and managers may not be as personal as those with family and friends, they are still important. At some point, most jobs require interaction with others. Even if you work solely online as a freelance writer, it's vital that you maintain relationships with your colleagues and supervisors to have a fulfilling work environment and excel at your job consistently.

It's critical to understand the difference between a professional and a personal relationship. A professional relationship is a formal arrangement that can ensure good teamwork and productivity, often involving individuals sharing workspaces. To build a personal relationship, you start by sharing emotions and personal truths, often sharing domestic spaces.

How to build good working relationships

Learning how to build good working relationships takes time and patience, but it can produce rewarding results. While attempting to improve your working relationships, you may consider following these steps:

1. Communicate often

Effective communication, which includes both listening and talking, is one of the most important aspects of building any relationship. This means that when a coworker or manager approaches you, it's important that you actively listen and consider their viewpoint before responding. Take note of nonverbal communication, such as a team member's body language, as it may provide valuable insights that words alone may not be able to convey.

Strive to understand your coworkers' personal circumstances, in addition to carefully considering their opinions. For example, if a coworker is facing challenges in their personal life, it's advisable to listen to them and be considerate in your interactions. Effective communication can help improve teamwork and lead to better project collaboration.

Related: 4 Types Of Communication (With Examples)

2. Be consistent and trustworthy

Trust is a crucial element in any relationship. If you promise a team member that you can complete a task or duty within a certain amount of time, make sure you do so. You can attempt to show your trustworthiness by providing support and help to team members who require it. To gain your colleagues' and team members' trust, it's vital to act in a trustworthy and supportive manner.

3. Avoid gossip

It's best to avoid gossip at work if you want to foster positive relationships. If you hear a coworker gossiping about another, refrain from participating in it or try to change the subject. When you have a problem with a coworker, try to talk to them in a polite and honest manner first. If this doesn't produce positive results, you can convene a meeting with a superior and the affected colleague to address the problem in an open and professional manner.

Related: What Is Workplace Gossip? (With Tips and How to Handle It)

4. Support fellow team members

Supporting coworkers is one of the most effective ways to build positive working relationships. If you are in a senior position, do your best to mentor and educate junior employees. Give compliments to your coworkers when they perform well and focus on their accomplishments rather than their setbacks. You can gain your coworkers' respect and support by contributing to the establishment of a workplace culture of mutual support and positivity.

5. Remain positive in interactions

Staying positive when faced with deadlines or a stressful period at work can help keep your team members motivated. Instead of expressing concern, you can motivate yourself and your coworkers by providing positive advice and motivation to keep working. Maintaining a positive attitude can assist you in becoming the team member who others turn to for help or guidance, resulting in excellent working relationships.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Be a Positive Thinker

6. Know company guidelines

It's critical to understand the written and unwritten rules and expectations that govern working relationships. These boundaries may vary depending on the company culture. Some companies, for example, may encourage employees to dress more casually, while others may expect them to dress more formally. Always remember that professional relationships aren't the same as personal relationships. If you are unsure about company policies, always act professionally and ask the human resources department or a trusted mentor or colleague for advice.

7. Deliver quality work on time

When working in a group, the work you do may have a direct impact on the work-life balance of your coworkers. One of the most effective ways to build positive relationships is to deliver high-quality work on time. This shows that you aren't only professional and good at what you do, but also that you respect and think about your coworkers' time and convenience when performing your daily tasks.

Related: Benefits of Effective Time Management (With Actionable Tips)

8. Focus on your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to your ability to recognize and understand your own feelings and emotions. Understanding how others feel allows you to manage and nurture relationships. You may become more proficient at recognizing and handling the emotions and needs of others as your EI improves.

Related: What Is Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace? (With Helpful Tips)

9. Establish boundaries

Set aside some time to assist other professionals, but not too much. When a colleague or a superior monopolizes your time, a working relationship can sometimes impair productivity. It's critical to establish boundaries and keep track of how much time you spend on social interactions at work.

10. Appreciate everyone

Everyone, from your boss to a new intern at the firm, likes appreciation for their efforts. When people around you do something well, you can genuinely compliment them. Praise and acknowledgement can foster great working relationships.

Why is building positive working relationships important?

Good working relationships are a critical component for succeeding in any workplace. These are reasons why building strong work relationships is an important aspect of any job:

  • Effective teamwork: When team members have good working relationships, it can positively impact their work. Better working relationships lead to improved teamwork, which can make you happier, more engaged, and more productive.

  • Improved morale in the workplace: People who have good working relationships are more likely to handle conflict well and treat one another with mutual respect and goodwill. Employees are typically happier in a work environment that promotes this type of culture.

  • Increased productivity and work satisfaction: Employees tend to be more productive when they get along in the workplace and work well together as a team. Increased productivity results in increased job satisfaction and motivation.

  • Greater personal growth: If you have good working relationships with your coworkers, you might spend less time dealing with interpersonal issues and devote more time to professional development. Having good working relationships with senior employees also means you can learn from mentors and benefit from their expertise.

  • Improved communication: Open and honest communication is the foundation of all successful relationships. The more effectively you communicate with those around you, whether through e-mails or instant messages, face-to-face meetings or video calls, the better you connect with others.

Managing challenging working relationships

There are times when you may work with someone you don't get along very well with. While it's natural to avoid people who cause conflict, it's not always possible in your team's best interests. Here are some tips for mending or maintaining a challenging professional relationship:

  • Reflect on your positive experiences in the past. If a good relationship has deteriorated as a result of an incident, reflecting on positive experiences can help repair the relationship. Another option is to use an impartial mediator to help involved parties reach a quick agreement.

  • Be compassionate. Everyone has personal issues to address, and this consideration may explain a coworker's behaviour in the workplace. As you get to know a person better, try to show empathy and compassion for their situation instead of challenging difficult behaviour.

  • Speak to a supervisor. When a professional starts breaking company policies or has a negative impact on the work culture, it's advisable to talk to a supervisor or the human resources department about it. A supervisor or human resources department is typically responsible for resolving conflicts and ensuring that everyone feels safe and gains respect at work.

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