Shirley's Articles / Teamwork and Collaboration

Making Great Connections That Count

Building great working relationships is key to your success and happiness in the workplace

Your effectiveness at work will largely depend on how much people want to interact and connect with you. The route to professional effectiveness is not only paved with knowledge and experience, but also with relationships. If people avoid you, it will be very difficult to do your job. If you are to make successful connections – connections that you can count on when you have new ideas and goals – you need to develop great working relationships.

Here are five steps you can take if you want to make great connections that really count:

Increase your credibility

Your credibility is the extent to which others believe what you tell them. Very often at work you will have to convince people of your point of view. You need credibility for this. You will gain a certain amount of credibility from your experience. However, if you are to make successful connections – connections that you can count on when you have new ideas and goals – you need to gain respect, create trust, and build rapport. This won’t happen if you engage in office politics and gossip. It won’t happen if you are inconsistent in your responsibilities. Credibility comes with transparency, engagement, and honest hard work.

Find common interests

Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get the other person interested in you.”

How many people in your office do you really know? How many times do you enter the lift with the same person yet never even acknowledge them? Do you walk past co-workers’ desks and never nod your head or say hi? What a sad way to work. Make an effort to get to know your colleagues and clients so that you can build on commonalities. For example, comment on a photo or an object on a colleague’s desk. You may find you have a story to share, or you may learn something new that you can discuss.

Making an effort to gain eye contact, spark up a conversation, smile, even just nod and say ‘hello’ is also a much more enjoyable and rewarding way to spend your day.

Be courteous

I’m often amazed at how discourteous some people can be in the office. I see people walk through an office in the morning, eyes down, headphones in their ears, without even acknowledging anyone around them. We’re all busy. We all have a lot of things on our minds. But that’s no excuse for rudeness.

Everyone has a right to work in a cordial environment, and work flows more smoothly when the atmosphere and the people in it are pleasant. Put a smile on your dial, and be civil.

Make others feel important

Many of my workshop participants tell me that some bosses have a lot of trouble acknowledging good work, or saying a simple “thank you” for a job well done. Feeling unimportant or unappreciated is extremely de-motivating. If you are a manager, make an effort to talk to your staff about something other than business from time to time. Ask them about their families, their upcoming holiday, their weekend. Listen to them. Show you are approachable. By doing this you will win their respect, and at the same time you’ll learn more about your staff and will pick up useful information that will help you guide and motivate them.

One of the most fundamental rules of developing relationships is to respect other people’s feelings. We all like to be recognised and appreciated. If you want to make friends and enhance your reputation as a great communicator, learn how to make others feel important.

Show humility

There’s nothing worse than someone who brags and boasts about themselves. These people will have others running away from them rather than wanting to get closer. Humility involves maintaining our pride about who we are and about our achievements, but without arrogance. Humility means having a quiet confidence and being content to let others discover your talents without having to brag about them.

Interestingly, very often the higher people rise and the more accomplishments they have, the higher their humility index. If you want to improve your relationships, practise humility. It’s a strength, not a weakness.

Most people would agree that their satisfaction at work is largely derived from the way they, their colleagues and their clients communicate. As with any other endeavour, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get back. When you start practising these basic success tools for making great connections, you will see the massive rewards they can bring, both personally and professionally.

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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