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Building Authentic Relationships at Work


What do the highest performing teams at different companies all have in common? Authentic working relationships. These relationships are built on psychological safety, or feeling comfortable enough to take risks or speak up at work, according to a study by Google. When we feel trust, we can be our truest selves and build lasting bonds with colleagues. Here are some tips for building authentic relationships at work:

Find Your Intention

When you meet a new colleague, ask yourself, “What is my intention for this relationship?” Whether it’s transactional and based on what you need, or relational and based on mutual benefits, you should approach the relationship with a genuine desire to help and a willingness to trust. This will lay the groundwork for a productive working relationship in the future.

Ask Questions

Part of building authentic relationships at work involves asking questions. Ask a boss or colleague how their day is going, how you can help, or even how they enjoyed a recent vacation. A few questions will go a long way toward developing rapport.

Listen Intentionally 

It’s important to not only ask questions at work, but to listen to the answers. There are different levels of listening and most of us tend to hover around the lowest one, spending time deciding how we’ll respond and interpreting what we think the other person is saying instead of focusing on the cues they’re giving us. Pay attention to not only the person’s words but body language and underlying emotions and reflect those back to help a colleague feel understood and valued.

Be Vulnerable

Oversharing at work is usually taboo but sharing some personal information helps build trust. Try to confide in a sympathetic manager about a difficult time you’ve experienced recently or tell your colleagues about something funny that happened over the weekend. If you’re willing to be vulnerable and show that you trust someone, they will likely become more trustworthy and open in return. 

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