We humans are social creatures. It’s a big part of what makes us human.
It’s also a big part of how we develop and grow as a species so it is imperative that we develop strong personal relationships not only in our private lives but also at work.
Again, we refer back to our article entitled ‘8 ways to improve your health at work,’ explaining that the average person spends approximately 10% of their life on the job.
One aspect of a healthy lifestyle is having strong, loving relationships; therefore, this article aims to provide tips on how to develop your relationships at work and build camaraderie in the workplace.
Healthy camaraderie in the workplace also goes a long way to maximising business profits; so for you managers out there, take note because creating a supportive social environment, that encourages healthy relationships, is essential for business performance.
Develop an appreciation philosophy
Many companies have documented visions, mission statements, ideas, codes of conduct, policies, terms and conditions, the list goes on. These are all useful management tools but it’s often unwritten beliefs that guide an organisations culture.
- Does your organisation have an appreciation philosophy?
- Do you appreciate the skills of your colleagues?
- Do you appreciate the personalities surrounding you at work?
If you want to create an environment that encourages camaraderie, having a philosophy founded on appreciation is essential.
You don’t have to be the next Aristotle to create such a philosophy and you don’t need to necessarily like everyone you work with to appreciate what they are good at.
Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.
So make sure you learn from your peers and and give them honest and sincere appreciation.
One interesting idea is to incorporate an appreciation board into the workplace where people write (anonymously or not) what they appreciate about others in the team, who has done well recently, who has received good feedback from a customer, etc.
A relatively cheap addition like this will certainly boost morale amongst staff and create a more appreciative atmosphere in the workplace.
Make it personal
How much do you really know about your peers?
One great way to develop healthy workplace relations with fellow workers is to understand them on a personal level.
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone in your team; however, knowing more about them will help you to understand them.
So ask about family, hobbies, pets, holidays and other personal interests they may have. You don’t have to delve into their deepest, darkest secrets to create a connection.
Simple questions like “what’s the best book you’ve ever read?” or “have you seen any good movies recently?” provide more than enough tinder to start the personal conversation burning.
Once you have created that connection you may be brave enough to move on to “big talk,” a phrase coined by Kalina Silverman as a way to have deeper, more meaningful conversations with people.
Taking a bit of extra interest in your coworkers can go a long way towards building better relationships that will last a lifetime.
Some examples of how you can incorporate this across your firm:
- Set up a “fun committee” that arranges social events
- Invite everyone out for bowling
- Organise a night at the local comedy club
- Have team meals
- Celebrate your achievements as a team
- Have a social hour each week
There will be caveats to this as some people like to keep their work and private lives separate. If this is the case, respect their space and don’t take it personally.
Often, the best method for creating a desired culture is to lead by example. If you want to build camaraderie, you have to be a comrade. Lead by example – be generous with your time and give praise when it’s deserved.
Some will argue that “wasting” time costs money but spending a few extra minutes to help a colleague or providing direct, genuine appreciation costs very little when considering the impact it will have on the workplace and people’s views of you.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of money, you can strengthen your personal relationships even more by offering thoughtful gifts.
The key here is to give without expecting anything in return. When you do this, it will not only feel good but people around you will appreciate your honesty and sincerity. This is one of the guiding principles of being a great leader. You don’t need to be highly ranked in an organisation to be a great leader; you just need people to follow you (hence the term leader)!
The law of reciprocity also plays its part because, subconsciously, people often feel compelled to repay any kind of debt. So if you give, be sure that people will remember and return the favour!
Giving not only benefits you as an individual, it can encourage your comrades to go above and beyond for the benefit of the team.
Once you set a “giving” example, extend it to your team by encouraging them to give back to the community and their fellow coworkers:
- Organise volunteer days to help the local community.
- Encourage inter-team coaching.
- Create “Most Helpful Employee” of the month awards.
- Allot a specified amount of time per week for individuals to help colleagues.
- Introduce colleagues to “Pay It Forward” – Instead of them paying you back, get them to do a good deed for someone else.
Show respect for each other’s opinions
Respect people’s opinions and ideas. It’s that simple. Don’t dismiss people. Even if their ideas or opinions clash with your own; take a deep breath, respect them, appreciate them, and provide appropriate feedback.
Put yourself in the shoes of others and think from their perspective for a second.
- What challenges might they be facing?
- What will they think or feel about this issue?
- What is their level of experience?
- What do they want?
- What don’t they want?
Again, a lot of these questions can be answered once you know the people you are working with on a personal level. The more you know about someone’s personality, the more empathetic you can be towards them.
Take tips from Dale Carnegie’s book ‘How to win Friends and Influence People’ by being a good listener and never saying or portraying that another person is wrong.
You should also strive to promote listening and empathy throughout your workplace; for example:
- Create meeting spaces for people to share ideas.
- Hang motivational posters that will influence the way people empathise, listen and generally treat each other (you may find some useful ones on our wisdom board).
- Generate more energy in meetings and promote listening by having a “ball rule” – You may only speak when you hold the ball.
Create a comfortable environment by encouraging people to express themselves freely and not worry about others’ opinions.
This will not only make the workplace a much happier environment, it will lead to an upsurge in ideas.
Ideas are the protein of business – it’s what helps them grow – and who better to suggest ideas than the people who work in the business day in day out.
You can also create idea boxes, boards or forms to put around the office, so people can share ideas without feeling anxious about it.
In addition, have regular one-on-one meetings between different levels of staff to make sure everyone is supported from people above and below them in the corporate structure.
Let people know that if they want to share an idea with you, you’re always approachable.
Wrapping Up: Create a positive atmosphere
All of the above suggestions lead to one overarching goal: creating a positive, affirmative and conducive atmosphere in the workplace.
People should be encouraged to embrace empathy and to treat each other as they wish to be treated. Staff members should be encouraged to share ideas and to avoid negativity as much as possible.
Your company doesn’t have to run with every idea. Staff members don’t have to hang out and be buddies every day. A positive atmosphere is “simply” an atmosphere that encourages respect and treating each other well.
A positive atmosphere will encourage people to form healthy relationships, to listen and to respect one another.
Think of many of the most famous and cutting-edge companies today: Google, Apple, Facebook, Tesla. These companies are known for demanding a lot out of their employees, yet they also strive to promote a positive atmosphere that encourages healthy relationships.
People love working at these firms and the companies don’t do too badly either!
Creating healthy relationships at work
If you want to live a more vibrant lifestyle and/or want your company to be known for being highly effective and innovative, then you should focus on creating healthy relationships at work.
A lot of the suggestions given in this article are simple and cheap but go a long way to developing healthy working relationships. So, as a challenge, implement one of the ideas provided within the next month.
Once it has been embedded, re-read this article and continue to implement ideas each month until you have a workplace which is based on the founding principles of appreciation, friendship (leads to teamwork, trust and clear communication), giving, respect, empathy and comfort.
Please let us know how you get on using the comments box below and if you have any ideas of your own we would love to hear them!