October 2, 2013

7 Ways to Make Business Relationships More Fulfilling. ~ Chris Miller

The office can be a stark and boring place.

And for most of us, the majority of our waking hours must be spent at work, day after day. Though you may not have chosen your coworkers, you do have to live with them—at least Monday through Friday. So, even if they aren’t the type of people you would naturally befriend, it is important to foster good relationships with them.

Social interaction is important for both your health and your career.

So why not kill two birds with one stone and make the most out of the potential relationships you have right in your office? If your business relationships are subpar, check out these seven tips for making these professional relationships more fulfilling.

1. Greet Your Coworkers.

As simple as this may sound, a quick “Good morning!” when you come into work each day can go a long way in helping you seem more approachable. Nobody wants to talk to a grump who just walks in with his head down and goes straight to his desk without even a small “Hello,” or acknowledgement.

Make a point of greeting your coworkers each morning and saying goodbye when you leave the office. This small act of courtesy and friendship will help build a rapport between you and your colleagues, and make it easier to build deeper relationships.

2. Reciprocate.

Never underestimate the power of reciprocation. If a coworker does you a favor or makes a point of being friendly to you, try to reciprocate that kindness. Be available to listen or share in a joke. Offer advice or help if they are in a bind. It can even be as simple as returning a smile. People depend on social interaction for their emotional satisfaction.

Since we spend so much of our time at work, our coworkers are the people we tend to spend the most time with. Don’t take those relationships for granted. Reciprocate friendship and you will find you are much happier and satisfied with your business relationships.

3. Listen.

A good friend is one who listens. While you don’t have to become best friends with your coworkers, you can cultivate healthy and more meaningful relationships by listening. Pay attention when your colleague is talking to you. Listen to their story, problem, or joke. Offer your support, advice, or a friendly chuckle to show you are engaged in the conversation.

Even if you aren’t the best talker, you can be a great listener.

Listening is an art that is underrated and highly important in building good relationships. Besides, being a good listener can set you apart in your field. Business is competitive, so take every opportunity to network and connect. If you want to make friends or build professional relationships, listening is a great a place to start.

4. Ask Questions.

Asking questions shows people you are interested and engaged in the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your coworker about himself. This makes you more approachable, and encourages people to interact with you.

And even if you aren’t comfortable with asking people questions about their personal lives, you can make a point of asking questions related to your work. Pay attention in meetings and ask thoughtful questions. This will set you apart as an employee with initiative and drive in his work. Moreover, it will help you learn from others and begin building your professional network within the office.

5. Be a Friend Outside of Work.

Do you ever run into colleagues at the grocery store or the mall? Perhaps you have kids in the same school and occasionally see each other at sporting events or school functions. If so, do you put your head down or pretend you didn’t see them? For some reason—perhaps the advent of the cell phone— we have developed a habit of avoiding in-person contact and communication with others.

If you are guilty of this bad social habit, try to break it. Don’t be afraid to say hello and strike up a conversation with a coworker outside of the office. Moreover, if you have built up a good rapport, you could invite them out for a drink after work or have an informal office party at your house.

Social media is another easy way to connect on a more personal level. Share a funny video or an interesting article you read on their Facebook or email. These small interactions are a great way to build a good relationship and make your workday a little less bland. Just start small and do what you are comfortable with.

6. Celebrate Successes.

When a coworker has good news—whether it is a promotion or a new baby—celebrate their successes with them. Don’t be the grump who ignores or, worse, resents others’ accomplishments. Share in their victories and celebrate with them. This can be in the form of vocal praise or congratulations, or joining them for celebratory lunch.

Whatever the case may be, join in the fun and be a good sport. You will be counted as a good friend at work, and it will make others more likely to support you in your successes.

7. Have a Sense of Humor.

Finally, loosen up a little. The office can have a sterilizing effect on our personalities—don’t let the hum-drumness of work keep you from having a sense of humor. Make (appropriate) jokes now and then; laugh with your coworkers; and maybe even play a prank or two on your neighbor.

A little laughter and humor goes a long way in building good relationships (in and out of work). While you don’t want to be known as the “office clown,” so to speak, you also don’t want to be known as the guy without a funny bone. Have fun and don’t be afraid to show your goofy side once in a while.

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Asst. Ed: Melissa Petty/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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