5 min read

The FAQs of Building and Maintaining Relationships at Work

The FAQs of Building and Maintaining Relationships at Work

Positive relationships at work, whether between a direct leader, peers, colleagues, suppliers, or customers, are an essential aspect of day-to-day life at work. From providing support to championing your ideas or being a sounding board, these workplace relationships have been shown to increase job satisfaction and engagement, innovation, knowledge sharing, connection, and even physical health benefits.

However, with limited time, professional boundaries, diverse personalities, power dynamics, remote work, fear of rejection, and competitiveness, many professionals find building authentic relationships at work challenging, leaving many questions on the best way to do so.

In this article, we will answer the most common questions about how to build and maintain effective relationships at work.

Jump To:


What is important when building relationships at work?

If you Google building relationships at work, you will get back one billion, four hundred and forty million results. While there is endless advice on how to build relationships at work, we’ve distilled the best information into the top 10 critical factors.

  1. Effective communication: Actively listening, expressing your ideas and thoughts clearly, and accepting feedback are central to preventing misunderstanding, fostering trust, and building connections.
  2. Respect and trust: Being dependable, accountable, treating others with kindness, and taking a genuine interest in them is a foundational aspect of strong work relationships.
  3. Empathy and emotional intelligence: Understanding others’ perspectives, empathizing with their struggles, and celebrating their successes create a supportive environment where work relationships can thrive.
  4. Transparency and authenticity: Being open and transparent in your interactions by freely sharing information and being honest about your intentions builds credibility and trust.
  5. Conflict resolution: Conflict will happen; what builds strong relationships is how conflict is managed. Addressing issues directly, finding common ground, and coming to a compromise are keys to nurturing relationships through conflict.
  6. Consistency: Relationships at work take time. That’s why being consistent in your actions shows your commitment to building and maintaining relationships at work with your colleagues.
  7. Adaptability: Like any relationship, being flexible and adaptable, where you adjust your approach and communication styles to meet the personalities of others, goes a long way in building positive relationships
  8. Cultural awareness: Being mindful of cultural differences and norms, respecting and appreciating diversity, and avoiding assumptions will help avoid actions or behaviors that inadvertently offend others.
  9. Collaboration: Breaking down internal silos and sharing knowledge, ideas, and resources will strengthen bonds across the organization.
  10. Boundaries: While openness is vital for building relationships, it is a workplace, so maintaining appropriate boundaries by not oversharing personal information is essential for work relationships.


Learn how to build stronger working relationships with the help of The Art of  Building Relationships at Work. >>


How do you build and maintain good relationships at work?

While building relationships at work takes time and effort to nurture, a few behaviors will help speed up the process. Here are five tips that will help foster these connections essential to professional growth and success.

  1. Be approachable: When it comes to building relationships at work, think friend. You will want to be friendly and approachable by smiling, making eye contact, asking questions, and greeting your colleagues; all the things you’d do with friends.
  2. Be supportive: An easy way to spur relationships in the workplace is to be helpful and supportive. From helping with a task to covering for a colleague or actively listening to others, showing care and support can go a long way.
  3. Be reliable: Following through on your commitments, consistently showing up when you say you will, meeting deadlines, and keeping your promises are essential in building trusting relationships.
  4. Be respectful: While being friendly is essential to building relationships, you’re still in the workplace, so always remain professional. Respect boundaries, and don’t gossip or talk badly about others.
  5. Be positive: Positivity is contagious, and others want to be around those who have a bright outlook. Maintaining composure and a positive attitude, even through challenging situations, will have colleagues naturally gravitating towards you.

5 Ways to Build and Maintain Relationships at Work (1)


What are examples of things you can do to build workplace relationships?

Finding ways to intentionally build workplace relationships can help you connect with others personally and professionally. Here are some examples of things to do to build workplace relationships.

  1. Extend an initiation to lunch or coffee: Getting outside the formal workplace provides opportunities for casual conversations and connecting outside work accountabilities.
  2. Volunteer for cross-functional projects: When opportunities arise to work on a team that brings together individuals you typically don’t work with daily, you should jump at the chance. Working together to solve problems or seize opportunities is a great way to build connections, trust, and respect.
  3. Personally welcome a new team member: Taking the time to welcome a new colleague can quickly spur a new workplace relationship. Offering to show them around, introduce them to your network, and help them settle into the new environment will be greatly appreciated.
  4. Seek out advice: Asking for advice or feedback from a colleague demonstrates you value their expertise and insight and can spur a relationship built on trust and respect.
  5. Attend training or conferences together: Going to a workshop, training program, or conference with a colleague who shares similar interests and professional goals nurtures relationships through learning together.
  6. Offer mentorship: Being available to mentor a junior employee, where you coach, share your expertise, and help them wrestle through challenges, can be incredibly beneficial to everyone involved.
  7. Show appreciation: Conveying gratitude as simply as saying thank you, sending a quick email, or expressing your appreciation publicly via Slack is a great way to build positive relationships at work.
  8. Celebrate success: Recognizing the achievements of others when a goal is achieved, a project is concluded, or a milestone is met can help solidify connections by celebrating their success.


How can you build and develop relationships with members of your team?

The most important relationship an employee has in the workplace is that with their direct leader. For good or bad, this relationship has a direct impact on productivity, motivation, and job satisfaction. This was confirmed by a study that found that 74% of employees reported increased engagement and effectiveness when they had a good relationship with their direct leader.

When you lead a team, there is a natural power dynamic between boss and employee, which requires additional considerations when building relationships. By combining these recommendations for leaders with the others in this article, you will be on the fast track to building positive leader-employee relationships.

  1. Embrace an open-door policy: Build a sense of security and trust in your team memebers that you’ll be there when they’re faced with a challenge by having an open-door policy. It demonstrates that you’re there to listen to their concerns, ideas, mistakes, and successes, which builds a mutually respected relationship between a direct leader and their employees.
  2. Take an interest in their career: Having frequent career conversations where you uncover their ambitions and then create a plan to achieve them shows you care about them and their success. Not only will it help you build a thriving work relationship, but it has also been found that it also significantly boosts engagement.
  3. Have honest and frequent performance conversations: While not easy, having honest performance management conversations highlighting where an employee is falling short before it becomes a significant and possibly career-limiting issue is appreciated by employees. Knowing your leader is willing to have a difficult conversation, is invested in seeing you succeed, and creates a personalized performance improvement plan will build a trusting work relationship between a leader and team members.
  4. Ask for and act on their feedback: Asking employees for feedback on your performance and acting on their recommendations demonstrates that you’re open to learning and growing and shows you truly value their input. Having a leader who wants to do better and build strong relationships through changing certain behaviors shows dedication to them and being the best leader you can be.


Fast-Track Building Effective Workplace Relationships With Team Training

When a group of employees has a shared learning experience where they gain knowledge and learn skills to build effective relationships, a multiply effect happens back on the job. With multiple individuals actively seeking to solidify positive work relationships throughout a company, many new bonds are formed, collaboration skyrockets and a positive work environment is nurtured.

To get you there, team training programs, like the ones offered by Niagara Institute, are designed to do just that. From large team-building events to small-group training programs learning or team coaching, we have a solution to almost any need.

The Art of Building Relationships at Work: A Guide for Career Success and Satisfaction

The Top Relationship-Building Skills for Work Success

5 min read

The Top Relationship-Building Skills for Work Success

You’ve likely witnessed it at work. That person that everyone naturally gravitates towards. They seemingly effortlessly build a network of supporters...

Read More
The Art of Building Relationships at Work

1 min read

The Art of Building Relationships at Work

13 years and two months. That’s the amount of time the average person spends at work in their lifetime. Given how significant a portion of our lives...

Read More
Building Relationships at Work With Colleagues Checklist

5 min read

Building Relationships at Work With Colleagues Checklist

Colleagues can easily be some of the people you spend the most time with. After all, how many other people do you interact with as regularly as you...

Read More