4 min read

The Importance of Good Professional Relationships at Work

The Importance of Good Professional Relationships at Work

13 years and two months. That’s the amount of time the average person spends at work in their lifetime, according to HuffPost. Add a year and two months for overtime, and that’s 14 years of your life.

Given how significant a portion of our lives are spent this way, it’s reasonable to assume you want to make that time feel as positive and fulfilling as possible. If that’s the case, then it’s important to make a conscious effort to build and maintain good professional relationships.

But what does a good professional relationship in the workplace look like? Does the effort it takes to build and maintain them really make that big of a difference? The short answer is yes, but if you keep reading, you’ll discover just how important relationship-building is to individuals, teams, and organizations alike.


What Is Meant By a Good Working Relationship?

A professional relationship, which you may also call a working relationship, refers to the connections you have in a professional setting. Typically, you will have four main types of working relationships, including reporting, organizational, personal, and friendship relationships. But what exactly is meant by a good working relationship?

Here are 10 characteristics good working relationships have in common, which you should use to gauge the strength of your current professional relationships, as well as build new ones in the future.

  1. Communication: Every good working relationship hinges on the willingness of both parties to communicate openly, honestly, and frequently with one another. It’s about giving each other the space to freely express thoughts, ideas, and concerns while the other actively listens and thoughtfully responds.
  2. Trust: Trust isn’t something that can be built overnight. In fact, the best working relationships are ones where both people have demonstrated qualities such as reliability and integrity, which over time has earned them the trust of the other person.
  3. Respect: Unlike trust, which can take time to cultivate, respect is something those in good working relationships show from the very start, no questions asked. It means treating others with the same courtesy, dignity, and consideration you would want from them.
  4. Clear Expectations and Boundaries: Clear expectations and boundaries aren’t a nice-to-have, they’re a must-have, and those in good working relationships know this. Not only do they set them up front, they remind each other of them when it’s needed and revise them when circumstances change.
  5. Authenticity: Authenticity in working relationships refers to one’s willingness to be sincere, genuine, and transparent about their intentions, actions, and decisions. It’s a characteristic of good working relationships that everyone should strive for.
  6. Empathy: Empathy is a cornerstone of any strong and healthy professional relationship. It involves understanding and acknowledging each other's feelings and perspectives, which fosters a much-needed sense of safety and support.
  7. Vulnerability: While there’s no doubt that it can be hard to be vulnerable in your professional relationships, those in good working relationships make a conscious choice to do so anyway. They open up to the other person about their concerns, struggles, and shortcomings to establish a greater understanding between them.
  8. Accountability: When two people hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions and responsibilities, it creates a sense of reliability and dependability, which is of the utmost importance when working to build a good working relationship.
  9. Collaboration: A good working relationship is a highly collaborative one. One where you work together to achieve common goals by leveraging each other's strengths and being willing to compromise when necessary.
  10. Conflict Resolution: Good working relationships aren’t devoid of conflict. Like all other relationships, they experience conflict too. The difference is that when conflict arises, people in good working relationships proactively address issues, find common ground, and brainstorm solutions.

Good working relationships


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


Example of a Good Professional Relationship

Alex and Blake are colleagues in a government agency responsible for environmental protection. They have cultivated a highly effective working relationship characterized by mutual respect and complementary skills. Alex excels in data analysis and research, while Blake is a skilled communicator and public relations expert. Together, they have successfully coordinated efforts to raise public awareness about environmental issues, using Alex's data-driven insights to inform Blake's communication strategies. Their collaboration has resulted in several successful public initiatives and has contributed significantly to the agency's mission of preserving the environment for future generations.


The Importance of Building Good Professional Relationships

Your ability to achieve your mandate, accomplish your professional goals, and fulfill your job responsibilities not only hinges on the strength of your professional relationships but your overall satisfaction and engagement at work as well. To highlight just how important it is to build good professional relationships, here are some truly eye-opening stats on the topic:

  • Employee satisfaction increases nearly 50% when people develop a close relationship with someone on the job. - National Business Research Institute
  • Employees who feel connected to other people at work are more satisfied with their current role, more likely to see themselves staying in their role for at least the next five years, and are twice as likely to say their workplace motivates them to go above and beyond their job responsibilities. - Enboarder
  • Employees who have a friend at work are significantly more likely to engage customers/internal partners, get more done in less time, support a safe workplace, share innovative ideas, and have fun while at work. - Gallup
  • A lack of social connection can lead not only to poor work performance, reduced creativity, and flawed decision-making. - MIT Sloan
  • Two-thirds of employees say they would be more inclined to stay at their company longer if they had more friends. - Future Workplace and Virgin Pulse
  • 80% of employees between the ages of 18 and 24 year olds would be happier if they felt more connected with their colleagues. However, only 47% of employees over 54 years old feel the same way. - Nectar
  • Great conversations lead to higher engagement, but only about half of employees are having them at work. - Quantum Workplace
  • 3 in 5 (57%) people say working alongside someone who they consider a friend makes work more enjoyable. Meanwhile, around 21% believe it positively impacts how productive and creative they feel. - Wildgoose
  • More than a third said that they have never spent time with their manager outside of work; however, 70% of them said they would actually want to. - Officevibe

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