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How to make friends and build good relationships at work


If you’re like most people, your friendships at work have changed dramatically over the past couple of years. Many people report that their relationships with co-workers have deteriorated or become more distant. And with the talent revolution, many people have seen their work friends leave the organization or move into roles that make it difficult to stay in touch.

As a result, you want to make more friends and reconnect. Whether virtual or face-to-face, friendship and belonging are basic human needs. They are also vitally important for job fulfillment and job satisfaction. According to classic research, having a best friend at work is one of the main reasons people stay with their current company. Moreover, good relationships are one of the rewards of hard work – the creation of bonds based on effort towards common goals. You can develop friendships anywhere, but work is the main place where you create and maintain friendships. There are three reasons for this:

  • First, you spend so much time at work that it’s natural for you to develop relationships because you spend time getting to know people and building closeness and familiarity.
  • Second, you tend to work with people who may have similar interests or styles. Research has shown that people tend to choose a career based on their personality characteristics. It is therefore normal that the people you work with have similarities with you, which is a powerful driver of friendship.
  • Third, work tends to generate meaningful interaction, providing a basis for friendship. In yoga class, you might just say hello or exchange superficial banter, but when you’re in the trenches with others at work, it’s an opportunity to bond much deeper.

Establish good working relationships

According to research conducted at Purdue University, relationships based on friendship tend to be more satisfying and long-lasting. Great friendships are made up of emotional support, loving each other, caring for others, feeling confident and safe, and spending time together. Brilliant search for Lewandowski at Monmouth University finds that there are key elements to good relationships – and these can translate into building strong and rewarding bonds through work.

So how can you build good relationships with your colleagues? Here are the six things that matter most:

be your best

Research published in the personality diary found what people value in close relationships are those who are reliable, warm, kind, fair, trustworthy, and intelligent. Separate studies in the European Personality Journal found when people are pleasant and conscientious, the relationship tends to be more satisfying. So do your best to bring your best to work. Of course, you won’t be perfect, but when others can count on you, when they sense that you care, when you demonstrate competence and a penchant for fairness, and when you pull through for them, it bodes well (the best) for strong relationships. .

accept others

Recent research has revealed that co-workers can be judgmental, but more acceptance and less judgment is better for building strong relationships. Research published in the Family relationships journal found that when people were more tolerant, they tended to be more satisfied in their relationships. While it may be natural to criticize or draw unflattering conclusions about others, do your best to be accepting of your co-workers. Be lenient with your colleague who can’t seem to stay organized, and be tolerant of your eccentric teammate who can’t seem to articulate an idea without flowery, effusive language. When you accept the flaws and weaknesses of those around you, you will have stronger and more satisfying relationships overall.

Be confident and trustworthy

According to research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, relationships are a process of attachment to others. When you are comfortable sharing your feelings and feel you can rely on others, you strengthen your bonds. As much as you can, be open and vulnerable with others about your thoughts, concerns, and feelings. Share the challenges you are having with a project or voice your concerns about the new product and how you think it could be improved.

Likewise, in addition to being confident, you need to be trustworthy, and this correlates with strong relationships. This has been shown in separate research published in the same journal. Be someone that others can count on to keep their confidences and support them personally, but also to keep their commitments and complete their tasks. When others can rely on you both personally and professionally, you’re more likely to form strong, lasting connections.

Trust is fundamentally about having the best interests of the other person and the relationship at heart, and demonstrating this over time through your choices and behaviors. Trust is reciprocal, so the more you trust others and demonstrate reliability, the better the relationship tends to improve.

Focus on commonalities

The old adage is true, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” You want diverse relationships and access to varied opinions so you can learn and build bridges with others, but interestingly, when you feel commonalities with others, you tend to be more satisfied with your experiences. relationships. Research published in Personality and individual differences journal found that when people were similar in traits, values, and attitudes, they tended to be more satisfied in their relationships. So even when there are differences between you and your colleagues, focus on common goals. You may be good at getting things done and your colleague is the always open thinker, but you both care deeply about innovating the new solution for customers. Or you may be politically conservative and your colleague may be liberal, but you both care deeply about the future of work and the options your company will provide for hybrid working. Focus on where you agree and what you have in common, even if you have different things about you.

Language matters too. Called “linguistic determinism,” our ways of thinking and speaking can shape perception. More research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that when people in relationships use more language that uses terms like “we” or “we,” they tend to feel closer, more satisfied, and more engaged. When presenting on the work of your project team, emphasize the “we” in your efforts and give recognition and visibility to your teammates who have shaped and contributed to the work.

grow together

Another element of good relationships is when people support each other in growth and development. This is according to a study published in the Oxford handbook on close relationships. In the best relationships, you feel you can pursue your goals and develop your skills, and you also feel satisfied with your relationship with others. Strong and growing relationships also tend to contribute to your own identity. Encourage your colleagues with their goals to learn a new skill or pursue a promotion, provide them with constructive feedback, and consider enrolling in a course together to develop your abilities together.

Share the power

A basic human need, according to research, is the reality and perception of fairness. Additionally, many studies have shown that if you think tasks or responsibilities are unevenly distributed, you tend to feel frustrated or unfulfilled in a relationship. And the search in the book, Power in close relationships, finds that sharing decision-making and influence contributes to stronger and more satisfying relationships. Given this, share power at work by asking for feedback, giving people around you a voice, and seeking others’ ideas in the decision-making process. Remember that you don’t have all the answers and exercise intellectual humility to share power and influence.

In sum

Friendships at work can be among the greatest rewards we receive from our jobs. Pay, benefits, and the opportunity to contribute something meaningful are part of the value equation, but feeling connected, supported, and important to others are among the most important elements of happiness. Everything matters, and you can take steps to build relationships or rebuild relationships with colleagues, colleagues, and teammates, and it will contribute to your own positive experience, but also to theirs.