Building Good Work Relationships: Making Work Enjoyable and Productive (2023)


Making Work Enjoyable and Productive

How good are the relationships that you have with your colleagues?

According to the Gallup organization, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. But it doesn't have to be a "BFF." Gallup found that people who simply have a good friend in the workplace are more likely to be happy. What's more, good work relationships are linked to better customer engagement and increased profit.

In this article, you'll learn why it's important to have good working relationships, how to build and maintain them, and even find ways to work with people that you don't get on with.

Do you put in enough time to build relationships at work?

Why Have Good Work Relationships?

Human beings are naturally social creatures. And when you consider that we spend one-third of our lives at work, it's clear that good relationships with colleagues will make our jobs more enjoyable.

(Video) 5 Ways to Build Great Work Relationships

The more comfortable co-workers are around one other, the more confident they'll feel voicing opinions, brainstorming, and going along with new ideas, for example. This level of teamwork is essential to embrace change, create, and innovate. And when people see the successes of working together in this way, group morale and productivity soars.

Good work relationships also give you freedom. Instead of spending time and energy dealing with negative relationships, you can, instead, focus on opportunities – from winning new business to focusing on personal development.

And having a strong professional circle will also help you to develop your career, opening up opportunities that otherwise might pass you by.

Defining a Good Relationship

A good work relationship requires trust, respect, self-awareness, inclusion, and open communication. Let's explore each of these characteristics.

  • Trust: when you trust your team members, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions. And you don't have to waste time or energy "watching your back."
  • Respect: teams working together with mutual respect value one another's input, and find solutions based on collective insight, wisdom, and creativity.
  • Self-awareness: this means taking responsibility for your words and actions, and not letting your own negative emotions impact the people around you.
  • Inclusion: don't just accept diverse people and opinions, but welcome them! For instance, when your colleagues offer different opinions from yours, factor their insights and perspective – or "cultural add"– into your decision-making.
  • Open communication: all good relationships depend on open, honest communication. Whether you're sending emails or IMs, or meeting face-to-face or on video calls, the more effectively you communicate with those around you, the better you'll connect.

Which Work Relationships Are Important?

Although you should try to build and maintain good working relationships with everyone, some deserve extra attention. Like the relationship between a boss and employee. Gallup found that a manager alone can account for up to 70 percent of a team's engagement.

Regular one-on-ones let managers build relationships with employees. At these catch ups, you can show how an individual's work fits with the organization's "bigger picture," understand their strengths, and help them identify areas to develop.

You can also explore managing upwards, to analyze how your own manager prefers to work, anticipate their needs, and adapt your approach for a smoother relationship.

You'll also benefit from developing good work relationships with key stakeholders. These are the people who have a stake in your success or failure, such as customers, suppliers, and your team. Forming a bond with them will help you to ensure that your projects – and career – stay on track. A Stakeholder Analysis helps you to identify who these people are so you can devote time to building these partnerships.


Working closely with others can also lead to personal relationships. If that happens to you, our article, How to Handle a Personal Relationship at Work, will show you how to maintain professionalism during working hours, and preserve your business reputation as well as your relationship.

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How to Build Good Work Relationships

As you'll know from your oldest friends, building close connections with people can take time. But there are also steps you can take today to get on better with your colleagues.

  1. Identify Your Relationship Needs
    Do you know what you need from others? And do you know what they need from you? Understanding these needs can be instrumental in building better relationships.
  2. Develop Your People Skills
    Good relationships start with good people skills. Take our quiz How Good Are Your People Skills? to test how well you collaborate, communicate, and deal with conflict. The quiz will also point you toward useful tools to improve any weak areas.
  3. Focus on Your EI
    Emotional intelligence (EI) is your ability to recognize your own emotions, and better understand what they're telling you. By developing your EI, you'll become more adept at identifying and handling the emotions and needs of others.
  4. Practice Mindful Listening
    People respond better to those who truly listen to what they have to say. By practicing mindful listening, you'll talk less and understand more. And you'll quickly become known as trustworthy.
  5. Schedule Time to Build Relationships
    If possible, you could ask a colleague out for a quick cup of coffee. Or give a "one-minute kindness" by commenting on a co-worker's LinkedIn post you enjoyed reading. These little interactions take time but lay the groundwork for strong relationships.
  6. Manage Your Boundaries
    Make time, but not too much! Sometimes, a work relationship can impair productivity, especially when a friend or colleague begins to monopolize your time. It's important to set your boundaries and manage how much time you devote to social interactions at work.
  7. Appreciate Others
    Everyone, from your boss to the intern, wants to feel that their work is appreciated. So, genuinely compliment the people around you when they do something well. Praise and recognition will open the door to great work relationships.
  8. Be Positive
    Focus on being positive. Positivity is contagious and people gravitate to those that make them feel good.
  9. Avoid Gossiping
    Office politics and gossip can ruin workplace relationships. If you're experiencing conflict with someone in your group, talk to them directly about the problem. Gossiping with other colleagues will only exacerbate the situation, accelerating mistrust and animosity.

Handling Difficult Work Relationships

Sometimes, you'll have to work with someone you don't get on with. With the rise of virtual workspaces, many colleagues are benefiting from some time apart. But even communicating virtually can cause misunderstandings or tension.

(Video) How To Build Professional Relationships At Work - Create Better Relationships Faster

While it's natural to avoid people who cause friction, it's not always feasible or for the good of your team. So, here are a few tactics to mend or maintain a professional relationship.

  1. Reflect on your positive history. If a good relationship has taken a turn for the worse after an incident, research shows that reflecting on positive experiences with a co-worker can strengthen a broken bond. Another option is to use an impartial mediator to bridge the divide and find a quick resolution.
  2. Look to yourself. When we feel negative about someone, we can become impatient, get angry, and demotivate others. And others can direct those negative behaviors back at us. The Betari Box can help to break this cycle of conflict, stopping these harmful attitudes and behaviors in their tracks.
  3. Find mutually beneficial goals. Have you considered that a difficult relationship might be due to a power imbalance? You can use professor John Eldred's power strategies model to identify any conflicting goals or power imbalances, and devise a method to communicate better and improve your relationship.

Good Work Relationships FAQs

Why are relationships at work important?

Good working relationships will make your job more enjoyable. What's more, close-knit teams are more productive, which frees up time to innovate and focus on your personal development. The professional connections you make will also help you to further your career.

What are the three main working relationships?

You should build good relationships with all your co-workers. But focus on your manager to stay engaged with your job, the team members you work with day-to-day, and any stakeholders impacted by your work.

What is a professional relationship at work?

A professional work relationship is built on trust. Team members should also respect one another, and be inclusive in considering different opinions. Self-awareness and open communication are key to making this work.

Key Points

Building and maintaining good working relationships will make you more engaged with your work, improve your career potential, and elevate the whole team.

Use the following strategies to build good work relationships with your co-workers, manager, customers, and other stakeholders:

  1. Identify Your Relationship Needs
  2. Develop Your People Skills
  3. Focus on Your EI
  4. Practice Mindful Listening
  5. Manage Your Boundaries
  6. Schedule Time to Build Relationships
  7. Appreciate Others
  8. Be Positive
  9. Avoid Gossiping

Some work relationships will be more difficult than others. But with thought, time and effort these can become mutually beneficial, too.

(Video) Building Workplace Relationships


How do you build effective working relationships interview question? ›

How to Answer the Interview Question: "How Do You Build Relationships?"
  1. 1 “I believe positivity is the key to building connections.”
  2. 2 “My integrity helps me form strong relationships.”
  3. 3 “I build relationships by proactively helping others.”
  4. 4 “I grow my network by always delivering.”

What is the relationship between a good working relationship and productivity? ›

Good working relationships will make your job more enjoyable. What's more, close-knit teams are more productive, which frees up time to innovate and focus on your personal development. The professional connections you make will also help you to further your career.

How would you describe a good working relationship? ›

Being considerate, honest and tactful. Valuing others' opinions. Understanding the importance of both social and task-related relationships. Encouraging people to pursue activities outside of work.

What are the 5 ways to build great work relationships? ›

How to build relationships at work
  • Develop trust with your colleagues.
  • Maintain consistent communication.
  • Show appreciation and respect for others.
  • Speak well of your team members.
  • Be positive.

What are examples of work relationships? ›

The main types of work relationships
  • Co-workers.
  • Team members.
  • Work friends.
  • Mentor/mentee.
  • Manager/direct reports.
  • Work spouse.
  • Life friend.
20 Sept 2022

How do you build positive employee relationships? ›

5 ways to improve employee relations
  1. Set the tone from their first day. First impressions matter. ...
  2. Provide positive feedback. More often than not, the focus of evaluations are on how an employee can improve and what they need to do better. ...
  3. Improve communication. ...
  4. Offer career development. ...
  5. Help them be happy.

How can you promote positive relationships in the workplace? ›

Here are three ways that employers can foster positive work relationships in the workplace:
  1. Encourage social interaction. Increasing social interactions among employees will also increase their level of comfort. ...
  2. Creating opportunities for collective decision-making. ...
  3. Promote Open Door policies.
23 Jan 2019

How do you answer how do you build relationships with clients? ›

Here are five ways to build customer relationships and keep them coming back.
  1. Communicate. As a key to any good relationship, communication is an essential way to build customer relationships. ...
  2. Exceed expectations. Your customers expect great products or services from you. ...
  3. Ask for feedback. ...
  4. Connect. ...
  5. Show appreciation.
13 Jan 2017

What are the 5 steps for building productive employer/employee relationships? ›

5 Steps for Building Productive Employer-Employee Relationships
  • Good Communication. Good communication between an employer and its employees is essential when building a positive workplace culture. ...
  • Gratitude and Appreciation. ...
  • Maintain Levels of Expectation. ...
  • Consistent Feedback. ...
  • Following Through.

Why is it important to maintain good working relationships? ›

Why are relationships at work important? Good working relationships will make your job more enjoyable. What's more, close-knit teams are more productive, which frees up time to innovate and focus on your personal development. The professional connections you make will also help you to further your career.

What are the benefits of good working relationships? ›

Here's why building positive relationships with coworkers is important for your career:
  • It improves collaboration. ...
  • It improves individual productivity. ...
  • It improves employee morale. ...
  • It improves employee retention rates. ...
  • It leads to a transfer of skills and knowledge. ...
  • It improves your health. ...
  • It improves creativity.
15 Jun 2021

Why is it important to build good relationship with others? ›

Greater sense of purpose

Many people strive to feel like they're doing something good for someone else and improving the world in some way. Being in a loving relationship, no matter what kind, can give a person a sense of well-being and purpose.

What is the most important thing for a relationship to work? ›

Trust. One of the most important parts of a relationship is to trust one another completely. You have to be able to trust that they won't stray and you trust them with your feelings. You have to trust each other enough to be vulnerable on an emotional and physical level, too.

What are the 5 qualities of a good relationship? ›

Healthy Relationships
  • Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person's boundaries.
  • Trust. Partners should place trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
  • Honesty. ...
  • Compromise. ...
  • Individuality. ...
  • Good communication. ...
  • Anger control. ...
  • Fighting fair.

What are the top 3 qualities needed in order to have a successful relationship? ›

A happy, healthy relationship should have these 8 traits
  • Mutual respect. Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect. ...
  • Safety. Couples in a healthy relationship feel safe with each other. ...
  • Open and honest communication. ...
  • Compromise. ...
  • Equality. ...
  • Independence. ...
  • Support. ...
  • Privacy.
17 Sept 2019

What are the 4 main working relationships? ›

What are the 4 main working relationships? Working relationships can be roughly categorised into four different groups. These are individuals and their friends and family, colleagues and managers, people from other workplaces, and volunteers or community groups.

What are three skills that help us build good relationships? ›

The following skill sets can typically be considered essential to developing successful relationship-building skills:
  • Interpersonal skills. Relationships are people-centered. ...
  • Non-verbal communication skills. ...
  • Verbal communication skills. ...
  • Listening skills. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Emotional intelligence. ...
  • Networking skills. ...
  • Team-building skills.

What makes a strong workplace relationship? ›

Effective workplace relationships often involve support, understanding, empathy and communication and can improve your work with others. Those with multiple positive workplace relationships may have a better experience in their day-to-day job and enhance their overall career success.

How do you build meaningful relationships with coworkers? ›

15 Tips To Create Meaningful Relationships at Work
  1. Put in Some Effort with Everyone. ...
  2. Give Your Full Attention. ...
  3. Ask How You Can Help Make Their Job Easier. ...
  4. Keep Your Word. ...
  5. Don't Take Things Personally. ...
  6. Socialize Effectively on Your Breaks. ...
  7. Show Kindness. ...
  8. Take Advantage of Company Events.
23 Nov 2021

Can you describe to us how you would build a successful relationship with a client? ›

In addition to timely and thorough communication, you can also build a strong client relationship by making your clients feel comfortable being open and honest with you. They should feel that their ideas and concerns will be taken seriously.

How have you developed and maintained productive working relations with others? ›

Open communication is one of the easiest ways to build strong relationships in the workplace. Open communication ensures that everyone has a chance to share their opinions, ideas, complaints, questions, and feedback. The key is to make frequent and robust communication simply a part of the way you do business.

How do you build relationships with your peers or teammates answers? ›

We'll go over effective strategies to build relationships with your peers or teammates to boost office morale.
  1. Become Better Acquainted. Getting to know your coworkers better helps you build closer relationships. ...
  2. Be Supportive. ...
  3. Be Positive. ...
  4. Do Your Best Work. ...
  5. Share. ...
  6. Be Light and Fun. ...
  7. Avoid Complaining. ...
  8. Show Appreciation.
14 Apr 2022

How will you develop efficiency and productivity in your work? ›

Increase productivity and become highly efficient with these habits: Focus on most important tasks first. Cultivate deep work. Keep a distraction list to stay focused.

How important are relationships in the workplace? ›

When employees have strong relationships in the workplace, you're more likely to see prosocial behavior like collaboration and camaraderie occur. Employees are more likely to feel a stronger sense of loyalty to their company and each other, and perceive more psychological value in their daily work.

How do you build a successful relationship? ›

These tips apply to all kinds of relationships: friendships, work and family relationships, and romantic partnerships.
  1. Keep expectations realistic. ...
  2. Talk with each other. ...
  3. Be flexible. ...
  4. Take care of yourself, too. ...
  5. Be dependable. ...
  6. Fight fair. ...
  7. Be affirming. ...
  8. Keep your life balanced.

How do you keep your relationship happy and strong? ›

Relationship tips
  1. Work on communication skills. Strong relationships are built on effective communication. ...
  2. Do regular maintenance. ...
  3. Adjust your expectations. ...
  4. Create rituals. ...
  5. Plan dates and surprises for each other. ...
  6. Plan for roadblocks. ...
  7. Give each other space. ...
  8. Be active together.

How do you build productive relationships and Maximise workplace outcomes? ›

According to our leading executives, you can accomplish this is by recognizing your colleagues' contributions, keeping commitments, sharing insights, and listening to what your co-workers have to say. All of these things help build trust in the workplace, which is, of course, the foundation of every good relationship.

What are productive working relationships? ›

A good work relationship requires trust, respect, self-awareness, inclusion, and open communication. Let's explore each of these characteristics. Trust: when you trust your team members, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions. And you don't have to waste time or energy "watching your back."

Why is it important to build relationships with employees? ›

Improved Employee Morale

Given how much time employees spend in one another's presence, the development of good relationships in the workplace can increase employee morale. Coworkers become friendly and look forward to spending time with one another while they do their jobs.

How do you build a strong meaningful relationship? ›

25 Tips for Having Meaningful Relationships
  1. Be happy with yourself. ...
  2. Learn to listen and understand. ...
  3. Take the punch. ...
  4. Follow-up. ...
  5. Be positive. ...
  6. Grab lunch. ...
  7. Don't be someone else. ...
  8. Take inventory of the relationships you have.
13 Jan 2015


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