Why ‘work relationships’ are worth the work


Relationships are everywhere. 

Fathers and mothers, friends and lovers… 

If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that love actually is all around. 

But you know which relationships don’t get enough credit (or screen time)? 

Your connections at work.

The average human spends 90,000+ hours of their life at work – it makes sense that we all want that time to have purpose and meaning. 

But,  the ‘perfect role’ doesn’t always translate into professional (or personal) satisfaction – people tend to overestimate the importance of the what when they should be focusing on the who. 

Researchers agree: flourishing in your career depends as much on your relationships as it does on the job itself

And so, this month, the Strivin’ team are focusing on relationships: why work relationships are worth the effort and how to maintain relationships (in the real world and remote). 

Read on to find out:

  • The benefits of building your tribe
  • How to nurture your network

Why invest in work relationships? 

Without using words like ‘unprecedented times’ or ‘the new normal’, I think we can all agree that social dynamics have changed a bit since 2019. 

More than 40% of us are regularly working from home. 

WFH, hybrid working, flexible offices… We’re collaborating and connecting in new ways – whether our co-workers are at a neighbouring desk or in a completely different timezone.

 So, when there’s more FaceTime than face-to-face time, why should we bother building connections? 

Because it’s worth it. 

Better connections = better career paths

‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’

It’s a cliche because it’s true.

In fact, pioneers of research Connected Commons did a study to prove it.

After interviewing a diverse group of 160 leaders (from a variety of industries and positions), they found that personal networks have become critical to performance and wellbeing. 

The 80 men and 80 women who participated had one thing in common – a strong people network to help them produce, execute and thrive:

Benefits beyond your social calendar

Remember: A full social calendar is great – a full sense of well-being is even better! 

With a strong, supportive work network, you can benefit: 

Your mental health 

If you’ve ever experienced a toxic workplace, you’ll already know that good work relationships are essential. 

When coworkers don’t get along, it can impact the team culture, creating a negative work environment. Believe us when we say: this is not where you want to be! 

Working in a space without positive culture can affect your mental health and could even lead to burnout. Ultimately, it can hold you back in your career – and your well-being

Your workload 

We all know it: work can be stressful! 

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by office politics (many have quit their jobs because of bad colleagues or managers) – other times the workload itself can feel over your head. 

Whatever the reason, moral and practical support is vital when times get tough! Good work colleagues will be there for you when you ask – stepping up to the plate and offering support.

Your job satisfaction

From the mailroom to the boardroom – relationships matter wherever you are. 

It’s a fact: Social connections play a central role in fostering a sense of purpose and well-being in any workplace. People with roles that seem mundane or demanding are just as likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled as those with fun or inspiring jobs – all they need to do is proactively invest in relationships that nourish them and create a sense of purpose. 

Your bottom line 

It takes people to push progress. 

“Effective management of social capital within organizations facilitates learning and knowledge sharing, increases employee retention and engagement, reduces burnout, sparks innovation, and improves employee and organizational performance.”Harvard Business Review.

In other words: teamwork makes the dream work! 🌈

We become what we behold

Though 19th Century poet, William Blake, first said ‘we become what we behold’, motivational speaker Jim Rohn put it clearly into context:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Think about the people you see the most during the week.

  • You’re giving them the majority of your attention 
  • You’re hearing their opinions and ideas more than others
  • You’re discussing topics they determine
  • You’re regularly exposed to their attitudes and behaviours

The people you spend the most time with have the most influence on who you are. 

Just as you pick up a language the longer you’re in one country, you’ll pick up habits, ideas and beliefs the longer you’re around one person. 

Eventually, you’ll think like they think and behave like they behave.

Publisher of Success Magazine, Darren Hardy, writes:

“According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.”

That’s huge. And has hugely important consequences.

As we spend over one third of our lives at work, it stands to reason that our in-office mates have influence on our inner life. 

Get into the habit of building positive relationships at work – and enjoy the benefits of their positive influence! 

How to build and maintain relationships at work

The best way to nurture your network is to talk to each other

Yes. Everything comes back to good old-fashioned conversation.

Say ‘Hello!’, then follow these handy tips to make and maintain your workplace relationships…  

Practice active listening

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ‘ – Epictetus

When it comes to nurturing connections, listening is just as (if not more) important as talking. Focus on what your coworker is saying and use non-verbal communication to show you’re hearing them clearly.

When you pay attention to your conversation partner, you show that person they are being heard, thus building trust and making that person feel like their words matter to you… [active listening] cuts down on miscommunication, facilitates conflict resolution and problem-solving, and generates a more positive atmosphere for sharing.” – Active Listening Masterclass

Carve out time for your coworkers

Put people first! 

Work/life balance is no joke. It’s easy to let the daily grind distract you from your friendships! To mitigate this, put a coffee-date in your calendar. Or, if you’re WFH, make time for a virtual coffee break with a coworker. Carving out the time not only makes sure you actually talk, but it shows your coworker that you prioritise their relationship.

Let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no’ be no

Trust is the backbone for all relationships – even in the workplace! 

Make sure you uphold your commitments (show up when you say you will, deliver deadlines on time, etc.) and prove that you’re a reliable teammate. Conversely, don’t overcommit. It’s ok to say no – it shows your coworker that you can be trusted to manage your time and maintain boundaries. 

Be human

You’re a workmate, not a robot. 

Ask for help when you need it (going it alone may mean poor results – and that you’re not a team player!) and delegate when you’re overwhelmed. This will make sure you meet your obligations and open the door to working more closely with someone. Collaboration is key to building stronger relationships. 

Note: don’t forget to show gratitude! 

If a coworker helps you, remember to thank them for their help or compliment them on their work! 

Skip gossip

Leave teen drama to the teenagers. 

Office politics and gossip can erode trust in the workplace – and can be hard to bounce back from, relationally. Avoid talking behind people’s backs. Confront people directly if there’s a problem. Keeping an open line of communication will foster a better work environment for all!

Remember: not all good workers become good friends

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and your network won’t be either!

The best relationships take time to build. And some coworkers will stay simply that: coworkers. 

Not everyone is looking for a network or new friends outside of work – they might prefer to just come in, do their part, and go home. And that’s ok! 

Don’t take it personally. Your peers are out there. 

And once you find your tribe… who knows, you could be friends for life! 

Start nurturing your network 

So, not only can good work relationships:

  • Boost your career
  • Minimise your stress
  • Power-up your purpose
  • And improve your mental health…

…but they are also potential friendships that can last a lifetime? 

Why not give it a go!

To help you in your quest for connection, we’ve asked our crew to recommend some starting points. 

Build your social bubble as you:

📚 Read 

💻 Watch 

🎧 Listen 

🧐 Quote

“Whether they stem from business or personal situations, our relationships are what support us, connect us, and allow us to progress in all aspects of our lives.” ― Michelle Tillis Lederman

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