Sue is a busy, no-nonsense leader. She doesn’t have time to (as she refers to it) chit-chat. Not a big fan of water cooler talks, Sue doesn’t actively avoid her direct reports and peers. She just doesn’t seek out interaction and prefers to talk about work, if she has to take the time to interact at all.

Sue’s not a bad person. She is a busy person. But she could be in for some bad, unanticipated outcomes (and even more busy-ness) if she doesn’t attend NOW to relationships at work.

What happens when there’s a crisis, and Sue and everyone around her need to operate at 100% effectiveness? There are glitches, because Sue hasn’t built the “relationship capital” she needs.

How do you build relationships, while keeping the focus where it needs to be – on work?

1. Think before you speak. Sounds simple, but many of us just start blabbing away, totally from our own perspective. Think about your audience and not only what they need to hear, but how they need to hear it.

2. Be courteous. It only takes a moment to make eye contact and say, “thanks for your hard work.” Or, “how was your weekend?” (and really care what the answer might be).

3. Ask questions. We get paid to know stuff, right? So, you may be surprised by how infrequently you ask questions. Ask genuine questions and listen carefully,  and you may be surprised at how much more approachable you will be.

4. Start with what you have in common. It may be your work project, but maybe it’s also a love of dogs/Russian etchings/karate.

5. Make diversity work. Take time to notice differences in culture, experience, personality, etc. Figure out what opportunities these differences present. Then planfully maximize everyone’s unique contributions.

Notice that none of these strategies involve long, deep and meaningful conversations. After all, the job’s got to get done, and we’re not talking about creating BFF relationships here. Developing amicable relationships is smart and strategic. And…it might also be fun.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!