At the center of everything is one key aspect: relationships. Relationships are at the heart of everything from your personal life to working with clients, stakeholders, and other team members.
When we approach relationships professionally, it’s easy to find ourselves saying, “So what? Why should I care? It’s just a job.” However, strong relationships are the key to success, so let’s break down some key factors of why.
5 ways strong relationships make your work life so much easier
When you have strong relationships at work, you will see your teammates and clients have:
- Quicker response times
- Increased commitment to the project/task at hand
- Willingness to go above and beyond
- Higher project/task/campaign success
But the last, and probably most important, thing is:
5. Increased job satisfaction and sanity for YOU
If the first four didn’t resonate enough, I hope the fifth drove the point home! We spend a lot of our time working; it is 40 hours/week (sometimes more), after all.
How to build stronger relationships
Now that we’ve talked about the key factors of why relationships are the key to success, let’s look at how to build strong relationships:
Make a connection
Connecting with whomever you are building a relationship with is the first step to genuinely starting that relationship. To do this as smoothly and authentically as possible, try to find something you share in common with them and pay attention to key things they share when you first meet each other.
This can include things like:
- Do they have kids?
- Do they have pets?
- Are they big travellers, coffee, or tea drinkers?
- Coke Zero or Diet Coke?
- Do you have past work or life experiences that overlap/connect?
If you work with influencers, comment on a recent post/video that you saw and loved to build a good rapport. And in your next meeting with them, tell them how much you loved their post.
Try to always show up to relationships with the goal of being transparent – that means no hidden agenda or games. Not only does this help the other side feel safe and understand what is needed from them, but it will make you more trustworthy as well.
At the end of the day, we all need something, but as soon as someone starts to feel like there is a hidden agenda or the expectations aren’t clear, they will put up a wall which can hinder the success or completion of the task at hand and create extra work for everyone involved.
It’s important to remember that relationships are a two-way street. We’re all human, and humans respond best when we feel heard and understood. Showing a little understanding can go a long way, and most people will give you the same courtesy in the spirit of reciprocity.
Providing context is extremely useful when relationships or situations hit a rough patch. But by using context and transparency, you can get things back on track and show that you are working together toward the same goal.
Remember that while something may seem obvious to you because you are deep in the weeds and closer to it, the other party might not be aware, and by providing context, you open up communication and create the opportunity for a conversation.
It’s also important to approach this understanding that they may have context you don’t that’s impacting their approach, so give them space to share their own context and insights if needed.
Relatability ties back to connection. People love it when they feel like they are on the same page and when you make yourself more relatable, you humanize yourself and the relationship.
Small talk can feel daunting and inefficient, but it keeps that connection throughout the relationship. As you build the relationship, this can shift from the basic “How was your day?” to being more specific such as asking, “How was your weekend at Wonderland with your niece?” or “How is your other project on xx doing?”. You can also share updates on your end but the important thing about relatability is getting to know someone as a person, and not just for their title or the work they do.
Continue to tailor it based on your audience and the relationship you have with them.
I know we’ve all taken (or at least heard of) the 5 Love Languages quiz by now; if you haven’t, you definitely should! It’s important to show appreciation because then the other parties will feel recognized and in turn, more connected and committed.
That said, it’s important to ensure you’re showing appreciation in the ways most meaningful to the other party in the relationship.
For example, if you have a coworker who loves words of affirmation and jumped in to help you on a report, you could thank them by saying, “You did a great job on that report! Let’s share with the larger team.” However, you might have another coworker who doesn’t like words of affirmation and prefers acts of service/gifts, so you can show appreciation in the same setting by thanking them for pulling the report together and following up by asking if they have anything they need help with or treating them to a small coffee.
An excellent way to ensure you’re showing gratitude in the best way is to ask the other party at the start of the relationship how they like to receive appreciation best. This will also help set the tone for the relationship and make the other party feel heard, which ties back to the original point: connection.
Building stronger relationships through communication
Now, on to some actionable ways you can build stronger relationships through communication. While it’s important to ensure you understand your audience and communicate appropriately, I also want to encourage you to find ways to phase out the formalities and embrace being casual (but not too casual. I think Corporate Natalie said it best in her viral “Giving Gen Z Feedback” TikTok where she talks about when and when not to use slang such as “#facts” or “pop off” because while your coworkers may love it, it might not be an appropriate response for a 60-year-old CEO, for example).
With our new age of working remotely and face-to-face interaction dwindling (that is making a comeback, and we are HERE for it!), it’s become essential to build relationships via email, Slack, Zoom, etc., which have previously been known for being very formal methods of communicating, which makes it tricky to build that connection – especially because it’s impossible to make direct eye contact in a Zoom meeting or even worse, they’ve got their camera off!
However, by understanding your audience and the appropriate tone, you can implement small tweaks that humanize the communication and make these interactions more enjoyable. A few small ways you could implement this are email greetings, brief small talk at the start of the conversation, a fun email signoff that showcases your personality, and writing emails with your personality infused.
Even corporate communications isn’t one-sided anymore
A common theme we haven’t touched on yet but has been a subtle reoccurring message throughout all of this is just because corporate communication was one-way years ago doesn’t mean it should stay that way. In today’s society, people crave authenticity, feeling heard, feeling connected, and being satisfied with their jobs. By having strong, meaningful relationships, we are shifting the way we do business. I know that alongside our co-founders’ incredible grit and mentality to make an impact and shift the influencer space, their ability to build strong relationships is what made and continues to make Viral Nation what it is today!
Strong relationships matter
In summary, I encourage you to focus on building strong, meaningful relationships to enhance your success, whatever your role may be. Remember that no relationship is going to look the same as they are each unique, so be agile, tailor your approach, and don’t be afraid to do things differently than you’ve seen others do.
I hope through reading this, you’ve picked up some pointers and key learnings that you can apply to your own relationships. I also hope this leads to your long-term success and increased job satisfaction!