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Published on January 10, 2019

The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career

The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career

The power of building relationships cannot be overstated. While the concept “building relationships” sounds like a fancy business buzzword, there’s really a lot of substance behind it.

Many people do fine going about their business keeping their head down. Sometimes they poke their head out from their cubicle like a prairie dog when there’s free cake to be had but other than that, they do their own thing. They only worry about interacting with the people that they need to on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately, these people are shortchanging their own career. In this article, we will look at the art of building relationships you need to succeed in your career.

Remember, you are the CEO of your own career. How far you go towards achieving the goals you want for yourself in your career is squarely on your shoulders. Utilize the art of building relationships to help power success in your career.

Let’s take a look at why building relationships is so important to your career and how to go about doing it.

How Building Relationships Helps Your Career

Building relationships is often cited as one of the key drivers for building a successful career. It is absolutely mission critical. Building relationships helps your career in so many ways. When you make an effort to build relationships with your clients, it shows that you actually care about them as customers.

Creating positive and supportive relationships with your fellow coworkers will help you perform your job better. When they see that you are an important member of the team, they will want to work with you and come to look forward to interacting with you.

As you develop meaningful dialogue with your boss and deepen the relationship, he or she will see that they can trust you. They see you as someone who does what they say they are going to do and that builds trust. Building the trust and relationship with your boss can help you immensely in your career.

As we will see in this article shortly, there are some key people you should build relationships outside of work that can be hugely beneficial to you as well. Everywhere you look, you will see the value of creating strong relationships to propel your career.

Who to Build Relationships With

Ideally, you want to build relationships both inside and outside your company. I realize this might sound a bit strange, so let me explain:

The people inside your company can really help with the day to day aspects of your job and career. These include your boss or bosses, your fellow coworkers, and I’m going to include vendors you might work with.

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Outside of your company, there are other groups of people you should work to build great relationships with. These include your customers, mentors, and key folks in your industry.

Let’s take a deeper look at these groups:

Internally At Work

Your Boss

This should immediate pop into your mind. It is super important to build a good relationship with your boss or bosses.

Many people have one boss. I’ve worked in several organizations where I really had numerous bosses I had to develop relationships with. In any event, this is a critical relationship to build.

Make sure you have ongoing, open communication with your boss. Stay clear on your objectives and priorities. Know what areas create the biggest impact for your supervisor (and therefore you).

Be aligned on strategic initiatives and how you can help shape and influence that whenever possible. This all becomes possible when you and your boss(es) are on the same page through a good working relationship.

Your Associates

This is pretty much a no brainer as well. You can most likely see the benefit of solid working relationships with those people you interact with at work on a regular basis.

It’s a wonderful thing to know someone you work with has your back and you have theirs as you navigate your career and work product. These is a direct result of creating and building great relationships with your associates.

Keep open dialogue and a create a sense of teamwork and fun whenever possible.

Your Customers

This could really be included in either in or out of work. Some of us work with internal customers, some of us with external customers.

If you are client facing, then you have to be able to build trustful, advisor-like relationships with them. You want them to see you as a great resource in whatever capacity they are paying you or your company. That is your value to them. This comes from creating those trusting and meaningful relationships.

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If your customers are inside your company, it’s super important to create great working relationships with them as well. Being in recruiting I have internal customers (hiring managers) and external customers (candidates).

Outside Of Work

Mentors

You can have mentors both inside and outside of work. Best case scenario is to have mentors at both.

I like to stay in touch with my favorite bosses of all time. I continue to get advice and direction from them from time to time. They are from previous jobs so they are really outside of my day to day work.

I also have several mentors who do similar work to what I do, but are more senior and therefore more experienced and have some great wisdom. It takes work to maintain these relationships but it is well worth it.

Key Industry Folks

I work in recruiting. There are people at other companies who oversee huge recruiting machines. I like to have strong relationships with some of these folks that I get along well with. That way we are able to offer up advice to each other from time to time. If I am facing a new challenge, I can pick up the phone and call for some input.

There are also some people I’ve developed relationships with over the years who have expertise in a specific area. They are awesome when I need some advice in their area of expertise. Conversely, I can help them from time to time with my expertise.

Vendor Partners

Not all of us work with vendors in our day to day job responsibilities. If you do, it’s well worth building strong relationships with your most important vendor partners.

Not all vendors are great. The ones that are truly invested in helping your company succeed are worth the time to create meaningful relationships with.

In one fashion or another, we are all a vendor to someone. We all have customers. Recognize who helps you succeed with your customers and treat them accordingly.

The Art of Building Relationships

Building relationships is part science and part art. To be an effective relationship builder, you’ve got to genuinely be interested in others. Here are some strategies that can help you build relationships to help you in your career.

We’ve looked at the key groups of people that you should build relationships with. Now let’s take a look at some specific relationship building strategies and ideas.

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1. Be Appreciative

One of the foundations of building relationships is being appreciative of everyone you partner with at work. This includes your clients, your boss or bosses, and your fellow coworkers.

Take the time to say thank and be genuinely appreciative of what they have done for you. It might be in the form of incoming revenue from a client, or could be the tips and guidance your boss provides to you. It might be the report or presentation your fellow associate helped you with that helped you land the new client.

Always be appreciative of how others interact with and help you during the course of business.

2. Spend Your Time Wisely

It’s not uncommon for me to try to run in too many differing directions. When I do this, I am not very effective at any of them. When I focus on the most important items, I am much more effective.

This is suggested with relationships as well. Identify the most meaningful relationships you should create and maintain for both your career and others.

Remember, this isn’t a one-sided deal. You have to be a person that someone wants to invest time in to create a solid relationship. Speaking of which…

3. Give as Much as You Get

This is really true in all relationships and it certainly applies here. You have to be able to provide equal value in the relationship.

Maybe you’re a mentor to someone. To your boss, you provide a great work product and that’s some very good value for your boss. You provide insight and value to your clients and customers — whether they are internal or external.

Make sure you take the time and spend the energy to give as much as you get, if not more.

4. Be Social

Work relationships don’t just get created and developed at work. Many times, this happens outside of the building you work in. It can happen over lunch, coffee, and adult beverage, at the gym, and many other places.

Take the time to invite key folks you want to build relationships to lunch or coffee or whatever works. You don’t always have to talk about work topics. Some of the best working relationships get the foundation built outside of the office without talking about work stuff at all.

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5. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s one thing to ask a coworker to lunch to start building a relationship. It’s quite another to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met because you think they could be a key relationship.

Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and develop some relationships with people you don’t know.

I have reached out to quite a few people that recruit for the same kind of people in the same industry as me but work at competitors. Unsurprisingly, most of them have ignored me. With several that haven’t ignored me, we’ve built meaningful, referral type relationships.

6. Help Others Succeed

There is probably no better way at building relationships you need to succeed in your career than helping others succeed. This one thing is so powerful it will win you instant relationships. Think about the last time someone you worked with went out of their way to help you in a critical work moment.

I’ve recently joined a new company. I am working on recruiting someone who I believe will be a huge success at the company I am now at. The person that runs the Western half of the US offered to help me. His exact email words were “Let me know if there is anything I can do. I’m more than happy to do what I can to help land this individual”. You can bet he made an instant fan in me.

Conclusion

The ability to build relationships has the power to help you incredibly in your career. There is no one magic technique that creates these partnerships but rather a variety of methods and approaches.

Through the course of this article, we’ve looked at the art of building relationship you need to succeed in your career. Take what works for you and apply it liberally to give your career a significant lift.

Remember, the success you achieve in your career is entirely up to you. When you put the time and energy into building strong work related relationships, you give yourself a huge career boost.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

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Published on July 18, 2019

7 Secrets of a Happy Marriage Revealed by a Relationship Expert

7 Secrets of a Happy Marriage Revealed by a Relationship Expert

To use the words of Dr. John Gottman (founder of The Gottman Institute, with over 40 years of research into married couples) – Are you a “Relationship Master” or a “Relationship Disaster”?

Understanding the keys to a happy marriage could mean the difference between making or breaking your relationship with your significant other.

In this article, we explore the 7 secrets (also known as Principles) for a happy marriage revealed by Dr. Gottman himself (in collaboration with Nan Silver) in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

1. Enhance Your Love Maps

This principle is based on understanding your partner and their world, to help maintain intimacy and better prepare you both to deal with stressful events and conflict that may arise in your marriage. Gottman calls this having a “love map” of your partner.

Make Your Own Love Maps

Write down then discuss information about your partner including:

  • Important people in your partner’s life (friends, potential friends, rivals/enemies)
  • Recent important events in their life
  • Upcoming events
  • Current stresses / worries
  • Hopes / dreams / aspirations

“Who am I” Self-Exploration Exercise

Write down then discuss:

  • My triumphs and strivings
  • My injuries and healing
  • My emotional world
  • My mission and legacy
  • Who I want to become

2. Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration

This principle is based on working to increase, recall or unearth positive emotions about each other. The fondness and admiration aspects of your relationship are the antidote to contempt.

Start by Writing ‘I Appreciate…’

Then list 3 or more positive characteristics that you appreciate about your partner, along with a memory or specific example of each one, then share it with your partner.

For example:

“I appreciate that you always know how to cheer me up. The other day when I had a really hard day at work, you cooked dinner, put on a funny movie and let me vent to you about what was bothering me, this helped me and I felt so much better afterwards.”

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Highlight the Positive History of Your Relationship, and What Brought You Together as a Couple

Reminiscing about the positive parts of your time together, and why you were drawn to each other is a great way to bring your focus back to you as a couple.

3. Turn Towards Each Other, and Not Away

This principle is based on the idea of staying positively connected. According to Gottman,

“[Real-life romance] is kept alive each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life.”

This is referred to as turning towards your partner’s “bids” for emotional connection.

When you turn towards, you engage with your partner and let them know you value their presence and what they have to say. You can turn towards by making eye contact, smiling, and responding with validation. It also adds to the “emotional bank account” and allows for greater leeway during conflict.

Relationship Masters turn towards each other 86% of the time; Relationship Disasters turn towards each other a mere 33% of the time.

Turning towards creates:

  • Trust
  • Emotional connection
  • Passion
  • Satisfying sex life

Gottman’s top tips to practice Turning Towards your partner’s emotional bids:

  1. Take turns to speak
  2. Don’t give advice, just listen
  3. Show genuine interest
  4. Communicate your understanding
  5. Take your partner’s side
  6. Express a ‘we against others’ attitude
  7. Express affection
  8. Validate emotions (empathize)

4. Let Your Partner Influence You

This principle is about making decisions together and looking for common ground (sharing the power in your marriage).

Letting your partner influence you isn’t about having one person in control of everything; it’s about honouring and respecting both people in the relationship.

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Listening to your partner and being open to compromise and /or changing your opinion, instead of digging your heels in just to be right are some of the essential ingredients in this principle.

Answer Gottman’s quiz questions to see how well you accept your partner’s influence (challenging yourself by thinking how you would answer these questions during conflict):

  1. I am interested in my partner’s opinions on issues in our relationship. (True/False)
  2. I don’t try to convince my partner to see things my way all the time. (True/False)
  3. I don’t reject my partner’s opinions every time we argue. (True/False)
  4. I believe my partner has important things to say and value them. (True/False)
  5. I believe we are partners with equal say in our relationship. (True/False)

If you said “true” to all of the above, you are likely to accept your partner’s influence.

5. Solve Your Solvable Problems

This principle is about problem solving and communication.

According to Gottman, there are two types of marital problems: conflicts that can be resolved and perpetual problems that can’t be solved. It’s important for couples to determine what they are experiencing in their marriage.

Here’re Gottman’s top tips to solve your solvable problems:

Soften Your Startup

Start the conversation without contempt or criticism. One way you can do this is to make statements which start with “I” instead of “you”.

Learn to Make and Receive Repair Attempts

In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to start the ‘blame game’ and go into attack mode when your partner attempts to ease the disagreement by apologising or taking responsibility for the issue.

Consider this example:

Person A: “I know I messed up here, can we please talk about this later?”

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The blame game option would be for Person B to say something like “yes, you have messed up, I’m so annoyed with you and I want to sort this out now”.

Notice the difference if Person B said “thank you for saying that, yes let’s talk about it later when we’ve both calmed down”.

It’s important to learn to acknowledge and receive repair attempts. And also, to learn to make repair attempts yourself.

Soothe Yourself and Then Your Partner

When tension is at an all-time high, it is nearly impossible to rationally see things from your partner’s point of view or even to communicate exactly what you want to say without it potentially being misunderstood.

If you feel yourself getting heated during a conversation, let your partner know that you’re overwhelmed and take a 20-minute break (the usual amount of time it takes for your body to calm down). You can also try closing your eyes, taking slow, deep breaths, relaxing your muscles and visualizing a calm, happy place.

After you’ve calmed down, you can try to help soothe your partner. Ask each other what’s most comforting and do that.

Compromise

When conflicts arise, it’s important to take your partner’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. Also, a part of accepting influence, compromise is an important part of reaching amicable solutions.

Be Tolerant of Each Others’ Faults

This step is about being tolerant of your partner’s vulnerabilities and ineffective conversational habits, keeping the focus on shared concern for the well-being of the relationship.

6. Overcoming Gridlock

This principle is about overcoming gridlock through open communication with your partner about your hopes, aspirations, and life goals.

Gridlock in a marriage is just like gridlock in traffic – where you are at a complete standstill because you both disagree on how to move forward. A couple can experience gridlock on any issue, and often the more gridlocked they are in an argument, the more gridlocked they become on other things as well.

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Through his research, Gottman has uncovered that gridlock is often caused when people’s deepest dreams and desires are blocked. Happy couples believe in the importance of helping each other achieve their dreams, and move past these blocks.

According to Gottman,

“Acknowledging and respecting each other’s deepest, most personal hopes and dreams is the key to saving and enriching your marriage.”

Here’re Gottman’s top tips to overcome gridlock:

  1. Empathize with your partner – find out their side of the story, listen carefully and empathize.
  2. Be respectful – think about what kind of partner you want to be, and what kind of partner they would want to be with.
  3. Make temporary compromises – find common ground and make compromises to get out of the gridlocked state.
  4. Recall the honeymoon phase – remember the early days of getting to know each other, when you weren’t trying to change one another, you were curious about the person you just met.

7. Creating Shared Meaning

This principle is about developing shared meaning together over a longer period of time to build a deeper connection in your marriage.

Shared meaning encompasses a couple’s legacy – the stories they tell, their beliefs, and the culture they create to form a shared meaning system.

Part of building a relationship that is full of meaning is prioritizing time and resources into the relationship; and having shared goals and a shared vision for your future.

Couples who take the time to create shared meaning and goals they can work towards together are more likely to experience deeper intimacy – a hallmark of matured and lasting love.

Here’re Gottman’s top tips to build a stronger marriage with shared meaning:

  1. Share a common dream or vision
  2. Create daily or weekly rituals of connection
  3. Implement your shared goals

The Bottom Line

By following these 7 Principles (or Secrets) and really exploring what you can each bring to the relationship, couples can cultivate long lasting, happy marriages.

You can learn more about Dr. Gottman, his research and work with his wife Dr. Julie at The Gottman Institute.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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