6 Ways to Build Relationships with Co-workers

Ezra Cabrera

Updated: December 14, 2018
relationship with coworkers
Workplace friendships are different from other kinds of relationships. Co-workers go through many similar experiences at work, from relationships with bosses to procedures for specific job-related tasks. They also discuss job-related information with each other, which especially helps newcomers reduce uncertainty around the office. In essence, they depend on each other for support which is why it’s extremely important to build workplace relationships.

Related: 8 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners

Co-workers provide instrumental and emotional social support. They help others in the workplace through difficult or stressful times at work or home. Aside from that, they help a lot in figuring out how to do the job right. It is often easy to find similar interests or topics to discuss as well as information to share that teach others how to get along well with co-workers.

In this article, we are going to discuss the different ways to build relationships with your workmates. It’s common for co-workers to share stories about their own experiences within an organization, manage tensions about work status, as well as learn about norms. The may even disclose personal information that builds relationships with others.

1. Determine and Understand Strengths and Weaknesses

Before going about and building relationships in the workplace, it’s also important to understand your strengths and weaknesses first. Self-awareness is the first step in creating new relationships with people. Be aware of the aspects you do well in – be it communication, listening, or resolving conflicts. This helps a person in the process of building relationships.

2. Share Joint Experiences

As with any friendship, similar experiences in the past and interests are the foundation for conversation and relationship. Especially in the workplace, experiences are valuable. By sharing stories about previous experiences, colleagues can share information to prepare each other for their own future experiences. From interactions and conflicts with bosses or other colleagues, individuals learn tips and tricks for dealing with others in the office. They can help in finding the best way to get things done with other people in the office. Sharing this information with your colleagues is one way to build a strong workplace relationship.

3. Manage Tensions

Some tensions might also come with workplace friendships. It’s natural. The status or level of rank or privilege with the organization might influence the nature of a workplace friendship. If one co-worker has a higher standing in the office hierarchy, there might be an imbalance of power in the relationship. Certain topics might not be appropriate to discuss with colleagues. It is important to think about these issues and avoid them if they come up in conversation.

Examples of topics that might not be appropriate are:

    • pay-related issues
    • interpersonal issues or conflicts
    • personal differences, like religious or ethnic matters
    • workload balance

4. Respect Other People’s Time

Although building relationships with your co-workers is essential, it’s also important to set some boundaries. Understand that you’re doing a service job and that you and your co-workers need time to do all the assigned work. Whether you’re in HR, marketing, PR, or accounting – you all have deadlines to meet.

Unless it’s extremely necessary or welcome, don’t bother your co-worker when they’re working. This disrupts focus and concentration and can lead to strained relationships. Moreover, don’t go about handing out work outside of the workplace. Be sure to draw a line between personal and work life.

5. Socialization and Norms

Every organization has its own their rules and social codes. Newcomers often have an adjustment period, where they are “socialized” into the business. This socialization process involves learning all of the unwritten rules of the organization and helps individuals navigate relationships and workplace functions. From dress codes to happy hour events, learning about the social order in the workplace is one way to build relationships at work.

Newcomers, for one, have to adapt to the socialization and norms of the company, especially if they are there to stay. This may depend on one company to the next. Although some may not feel comfortable around it at first, they eventually get used to the process and adapt well to the environment.

6. Disclose Personal information 

Common interests build lasting relationships. By sharing personal information with co-workers, you explore new areas of similarity and get to know each other better. Of course, there are limits to openness and some things that are better kept personal. So, managing boundaries with workplace friends are also equally important.

However, disclosing personal information with coworkers allows you to find common ground. This then opens a door for conversation. Disclosing personal information to colleagues also shows trust and openness. In turn, this increases the likelihood of reciprocal disclosures, increases intimacy, and liking.

Build Lasting Workplace Relationships with Your Co-Workers

These strategies are a no-brainer and only require common sense. While it’s often unavoidable to encounter bad relationships in the office, you can make sure to tone down the tension and make the relationship workable, at the very least. Good workplace relationships help build a productive and efficient office environment. Moreover, when you get along well together with your co-workers, it will be easier to build trust and work towards a common goal.

Related: 5 Smart Ways to Increase Business Efficiency


Ezra Cabrera
Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.

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