Updated June 13, 2023
What are Professional Relationships?
Professional relationships are those between individuals in a professional setting, such as at work or in business. These relationships can take many forms, depending on the nature of the work, the industry, and the organization’s culture.
Professional Relationships at Work Organizations, Corporates, Companies, or Businesses all have one thing in common – Teamwork and Professional Relationships.
Without professional relationships, there is no pillar on which an institution can stand. Without a group of people who dedicate their talent and skills to the development of an organization, there will be no progress or success. Even for those businesses run by single proprietors or owners, their professional relationship with dealers and customers becomes crucial for their success.
“Nothing is Perfect. Life is Messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes are uncertain. People are irrational,” said Hugh Mackay. This quote is relevant to both personal and professional relationships. We need help understanding them. There needs to be more clarity about our professional relationships.
It is yet to be determined where we rank in building professional relationships because only a few pay much attention to it. It is surprising since we spend nearly half of our adult lives with our co-workers/colleagues.
Often we land in our professional relationships with little choice, but we can ensure that we make good lemonades if we get lemons. A good and meaningful professional relationship can prosper in your workplace with some effort.
Employees with good professional relationships exhibit high morale, escalated work engagement, and increased satisfaction at work.
We often visualize a boy and girl madly in love when we hear the word relationship. If we prod our minds a bit more, we see the relationship between parents and children, husband and wife, siblings, or BFFs.
We have our own set of freedom and also the commitment to personal relationships.
We let our hearts rule our minds in personal relationships.
In personal relationships, we dread hurt, pain, or break up. In contrast, in a professional relationship, we need to observe rules, establish boundaries and set limits that are ethical by the corporate standards to avoid legal and career jeopardy.
Basic Requirements for Building Meaningful Professional Relationships
Respect is a simple and short word that goes a long way in building meaningful professional relationships. Real respect is valuing your colleagues and appreciating their presence in your organization. You need to understand that the fear of superiors is not respect but conditional training.
The first step towards building professional relationships should be respecting subordinates, co-workers, yourself, and your superiors in their desired ways.
Never ignore your self-respect while trying to be nice to others. Like Malcolm X, the human rights activist, said, ‘Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.
I wouldn’t say we need to take extreme steps, but let us remember to stand up for ourselves in our organizations because if we don’t, no one else will ever do it for us.
Appreciate, encourage, motivate, and give your co-workers positive affirmations whenever possible. Let them know how much you value and respect the work they do.
Trust and respect play very important in building and maintaining a professional relationship.
Here we need to understand that effective communication is not just fluent speaking but involves good body language, effective listening skills, and observation. We also need to improve our phone and email etiquette.
Communication is an integral part of any relationship. In the workplace, we must be clear, specific, informative, and honest in our communication.
Refrain from creating confusion in your co-worker’s mind about the message conveyed. Make sure you are understood by paraphrasing your sentences when required.
Do not assume that your co-workers have understood the message you are trying to convey, but make sure they do.
Moreover, Keep It Short and Simple (KISS).
Sending lengthy emails and not following safe timings for making calls can damage your professional relationship. Avoid them as much as possible. Using words that others may compromise understanding.
Keep your voice pleasant and soft. It is not ‘what you say’ but ‘how you say it,’ that makes the difference. If your co-worker is talking to you, do not keep jotting in your diary, looking at your watch, checking your phone, or looking around the office. Give them your undivided attention and listen.
- Respect your co-worker’s right to privacy and ensure they show you the same courtesy. Do not mix up professional life with personal issues. Give space to your colleagues to maintain their privacy while protecting your own.
- Do not lean on tables, sit too close or touch anyone inappropriately. Know about the personal space which is not to be entered. Be alert for clues and signs that your co-worker is not finding your presence comfortable so you can leave them alone.
- Abstain from attending personal phone calls, checking your colleague’s emails if they have forgotten to log out, BCC the private conversation between you and your co-worker to others, or peeking over their shoulders. It makes others feel very uncomfortable.
- Do not lurk around offices or cubicles when you are waiting for someone. It makes everyone around very uneasy. Either come back later to meet the busy person or sit at a safe and comfortable distance.
- Avoid chitchatting with people in the restroom, even if the matter is very important. Don’t start discussing work if you run into your co-worker at a party, movie theatre, or supermarket. It is better to say ‘HI,’ exchange pleasantries, and walk away. Hand over files or information in a proper office setup rather than in the canteen, smoker’s area, lounge, or parking lot.
- Make sure your problems do not affect your work. For discussing emotional issues, find a good friend or professional counselor to deal with them. Sharing them with someone in the workplace may not be practical.
- Do not stalk your co-workers on social media. If they want to connect with you, go ahead if you are comfortable, or politely refuse if you don’t want to show them your personal side, which may be different on your social media, where you tell your life’s very intimate stories.
Work overload can lead to frustration & conflicts in the workplace. Be willing to give and receive help when required. Sharing the burden of those having a tough time will create goodwill among your co-workers.
Self-help is the best help you can get. But sometimes, you may need help finding the required information or understanding a mechanism even after putting in much effort.
There is no harm in seeking help from a senior colleague or someone who understands the topic better. Do not let your ego hold you back from approaching others for help and guidance.
Asking for help or lending a hand to those who need it breaks the ice, creates a friendly environment for workers, and nurtures a healthy professional relationship.
An office with a well-oiled support system will have lesser blame games, passing the buck, or conflicts. It allows teams to develop good and healthy professional relationships with each other.
How To Build Professional Relationships with Conflict Resolution
Every professional relationship hits a rough patch occasionally, which may also happen in your workplace. It is not only important to build healthy professional relationships but also important that you mend and maintain them even during tough times.
- Learn how to cope with workplace politics, conflicts, gossip, rumors, emotional disturbance, and stress management. The most important rule is to allow things to cool down before you handle them.
- Do not respond when you feel emotions going through your mind. Patience and emotional stability will play a very crucial role in conflict resolution.
- If there is a misunderstanding, discuss it openly rather than fretting and fuming over it on your own. You can meet up with your colleague over a coffee for this.
Ultimately, we have realized that strong workplace cooperation leads to better output, enhancing the employees’ productivity level. Also, when the organization maintains good professional relationships with its customers, it helps build the brand name and increases sales.