Building Work Relationships: Trust and Be Trusted

building work relationships colleagues image

The world of work constitutes a major part of our lives, and one of the biggest factors affecting our satisfaction and happiness at work revolves around the people we’re with all day.

Building work relationships isn’t something that can be checked off a to-do list, but it should always have a place among your top priorities because it affects everything you do personally and professionally. Sometimes it’s tempting just to keep your head down and get your work done if you don’t have strong relationships with the people around you – but that’s the perfect time to look at what you can do to improve relationships with your coworkers and your team.

Even if you have a lot of great work relationships already, take the time to find out what you could improve. Your perspective may be different from your colleague’s, but you won’t know unless you ask them. Maybe there’s something you’re completely missing that would help each of you understand how to work together better.

The first step to improving relationships with your coworkers is showing them that you want to know and work with them better. If you’re sitting there wondering why your workplace doesn’t have much camaraderie or people don’t take the initiative to get to know each other better, you can be the one to take the initiative.

Be the first to trust

A foundational part of building work relationships is trust. It’s your willingness to trust someone else, and your own trustworthiness. Everything about relationships is reciprocal, especially when it comes to trust.

This can be tricky, though, because it’s often a chicken or the egg situation. Why should you trust someone with handling something before they’ve proven they’re capable of handling it? That’s the trap a lot of leaders fall into if they haven’t learned how to delegate well.

This is where a workplace that values the freedom to fail can allow trust to be built between colleagues exponentially faster than one that expects perfection.

When you delegate a task or simply ask a colleague for a favor, you’re showing them that you have confidence in their ability to come through. For a relationship to grow, the other person needs to know that you value them as a person more than the outcomes of tasks they complete. If they don’t come through like you’d hoped, the worst thing you could do would be to give up on them after one shot.

Looking at a relationship from a lens of what the other person has to offer you will get you nowhere. Building trust requires investing your time, talent and vulnerability into what’s best for someone else.

Am I trustworthy?

It’s one thing to trust others, but are you allowing them to develop trust in you as well? Without showing vulnerability to others, you may gain their respect (which is important), but a strong relationship can’t form until you’re both willing to show what makes you human.

“Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”

– Patrick Lencioni

You have weaknesses. Maybe someone who you work with is strong where you’re weak. Letting them see that you could use their help in that area allows them to trust that you would do the same for them – that you would share your strengths, too.

A simple way to build trust with colleagues and improve your work relationships is to ask them “can you help me?” When you open up your failures and weaknesses to be seen, and genuinely seek out help from those around you, you’ll see your work relationships dramatically strengthened.

To help your colleagues and team members learn more ways to build strong relationships at work, check out the “Building Great Relationships” video course in The BizLibrary Collection. This 5-part video training course covers the basics of successful relationships and how relationships need to be based on meaningful communication.

Watch a 1-minute preview of “Building Great Relationships at Work” from The BizLibrary Collection here:

Looking for more practical tips to improve relationships at work? Download our free guide!

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Krista researches, analyzes, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at the industry shifts and trends that matter to L&D and HR professionals, and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.