How to Build and Sustain Relationships at Work

It is clear that emotional connection is important to build and sustain relationships at work. A study from Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (quoted in Huffington Post) shows that people who report feeling emotionally engaged and connected with their work and organizations experience greater psychological well-being.

A research by Thomas Clausen and colleagues of the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment,  suggest that efforts to increase emotional connection at workplace may lead to a happier, healthier workforce.

Now, of course every company will agree to that. But according to Working Relationship Pocketbook; the problem is that relationship developed solely for work-based reason is useful but tend to be transient and not long lasting. So how do we build and sustain relationships at work? First, let’s take a look on these relationship approaches:

Relationship Approaches at Work

These are four basic approaches to relationship at work, these are all possible ways of someone relating with others:

1. Casual Relationship

Low work need, low social sociability need. This relationship aren’t relevant to core activities, therefore it is peripheral and superficial.

2. Social Relationship 

Low work need, high sociability need. The relationship’s main motivation is emotional connection with the other parties which leads to friendliness.

3. Transactional Relationship 

High work need, low sociability need. These are professional relationships where you interact with each other to get a job done.

4. Mutually Dependent Relationship

High work need, high sociability need. These are the most productive and valuable relationship in the workplace where you have emotional connection and interact with this person to get a job done. 

Build and Sustain Relationship at Workplace

Examples of These Relationship Approaches:

1. Casual Relationship

Someone you come across regularly and exchange pleasantries with. Ex: the receptionist, security staff, staff from another division, etc.

2. Transactional Relationship

Someone you work with to get a job done but aren’t natural friend. Often a person you are thrown together with for a project.

3. Social Relationship

The person you can turn to in good and bad times. Ex: when you share idea, gossip, and actively chooses to spend work social time together.

4. Mutually Dependent Relationship

You respect and enjoy being with this person in the workplace, therefore chose to work and socialize with these type of people. Both of you are on the same wavelength.

Let’s Do an Exercise!

Aren’t you curious with whom do you share these relationships with? Here are some ways to find out:

Step 1

Copy the chart below in a piece of paper; fill out the names of your friends or co-worker at the workplace. Now analyze and decide for each person the level of work and social needs that applies to them. For example:

the relationship approach exercise

Stage 2

Plot your relationship on the model. Draw the chart on a piece of paper, mark each relationship on the chart (example below):

Relationship approach chart

Analyzing the Chart

What does this information tell you? Here are some questions on your relationship that you might want to re-consider:

  1. Are you happy with this scatter of relationship? Are there any relationship you would want to move out from one box to another?
  2. What does the overall pattern tell you about your attitude relationship at work?
  3. Do you think the other people would position your relationship with them in the same place? If not, why and how does this affect your relationship?

Case Study

Amelia is a sales staff for a company. She likes to work on her own and report to her boss when necessary. Her boss trusts her to get the job done and she likes this way. She always prided in being productive and self-reliant. However time is moving, her company hire a new managing director with new different idea.

Her new boss want each other to work in a team, share ideas, takes part in performance review and participate in training courses. Amelia was asked to attend the training because she was causing problem back at work. On the training course she found out that her preferred relationship is practical (strongly task focused and reserved). She also discovered that most of her relationship at the workplace were casual.  These behaviors hold her back in the new regime.

In order to be effective in her job and continue to success, she decided to make some changes. She tried out some new relationship approach including: asking more questions at meeting, offering opinions, joining others for lunch, etc. This helped her in adapting to the new work environment.

So, How Do We Build and Sustain Relationships at Work?

From this article we can see that emotional connection in the workplace affects someone’s psychological well-being. People who are feeling emotionally engaged and connected with their work are happier and healthier. Therefore, first we must discover our preferred relationship approach in the workplace and see how we interact with other people using the exercise above. Then work on how to change it the way we wanted; in order to adapt to the work environment.

A training course really plays a role in this.  It can help you build and sustain relationships at work by knowing each other better. It will also help you prevent conflict in the workplace, resulting in a happier and healthier workforce. If you want your employee to learn the secrets of achieving results through relationships, prevent conflicts, and develop a happier and engaged workforce, Exquisite Connection is pleased to help. Contact us here or mail us at


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