How to Establish & Maintain Good Relationships in the Workplace

Work is more enjoyable when you get along with your co-workers.

Work is more enjoyable when you get along with your co-workers.

You’ll end up being a whole lot happier at work and help to create a more positive and productive workplace when you build and maintain decent relationships with your co-workers. Misunderstandings, personality clashes and tension create an uncomfortable atmosphere at work for everyone. You can prevent the stress that’s sure to creep into the workplace by establishing respectful and amicable relationships right from the start and then taking measures to keep those relationships on good terms.

Keep your tone cordial and friendly at work, even with those people who may get under your skin or whose work habits you deplore. The tone of voice you use when talking to co-workers can set the basis for the kinds of relationships you form. In this same vein, be careful about bringing personal stress to work with you because it often comes out sideways, and you can end up snapping at co-workers and causing hurt feelings that will get in the way of developing good relationships.

Offer to help others when you have free time and you see they are overwhelmed or bogged down. When your coworkers see you are a team player, they’ll be more inclined to appreciate you and want to form a congenial relationship. Ask for help when you need it too. By admitting that you don’t know all the answers and need the expertise or support of your co-workers, you establish a foundation on which you can build respect, one of the main ingredients for good relationships.

Avoid office gossip. You may think you’re building relationships with those who are doing the gossiping, but in the end, it more than likely will come back to haunt you, especially when the subject of your gossip gets wind of your remarks. In the end, you’ll only develop a reputation of untrustworthiness and will have a difficult time getting others to confide in or befriend you.

Accept responsibility when things go wrong, especially when you work as part of a team. If you’re part of a team, you’re in it for the duration -- good and bad. You’ll earn the respect of your co-workers and create a firm foundation for healthy relationships when you keep your blame-pointing finger in your pocket.

Practice those skills you use to work out differences with your family and friends to deal with work problems. Many of the same relationship tactics you use outside work -- like sitting down and talking it through over a meal or walking away until you cool down --can effectively be used at work.


  • After you’ve become familiar with co-workers invite them to lunch or to join you in the break room for a cup of coffee. Share a little about your personal life at those times to find common interests among your co-workers. You don’t need to share intimate details about every aspect of your life outside work -- TMI can lead to more problems than it’s worth. Instead, talk about safe topics such as books you like to read, sports, and hobbies.


  • Don’t attack company policies or try to get around rules and regulations at your workplace, especially when your co-workers support the company culture; you’ll only create tension and insert a negative attitude in the workplace that can permeate all your relationships. Unless you’re the boss, you can’t just do things your way, especially when they violate company regulations or processes without going through proper channels. Negative remarks and rebellious behavior will not endear you to your co-workers or your boss.

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About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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