How to Build and Maintain a Working Relationship

Updated 7 March 2023

Relationships in the workplace affect the way people interact and function at work. Positive relationships at work are essential for completing tasks while making team members happier, engaged and productive. Discovering what an effective work relationship entails, and the steps for building and maintaining one, can help you work better, relate well with your team and enhance your work experience and job satisfaction. In this article, we discuss how to build and maintain professional relationships, explore the benefits of these relationships and answer some frequently asked questions about the topic.

How to build and maintain an excellent working relationship

Follow these steps to build and maintain an effective working relationship:

1. Understand yourself and your emotional intelligence

Understanding yourself and recognising and managing your emotions can help you become more adept in handling other people's needs and feelings. Establishing good workplace relationships may require specific skills, such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork and interpersonal skills. Focusing on self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and developing your social skills can play a significant role in building effective professional relationships.

Related: Social Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Open and honest communication

Effective communication significantly contributes to building relationships and enables a person to learn as they talk and listen. Asking colleagues and senior staff questions about work, personal life and goals shows your interest and encourages open communication. Also, actively listening and responding to their questions and concerns enables you to engage in interesting conversation. You can use excellent communication skills to build effective professional relationships by being precise when talking or writing, paying attention and minding body language.

3. Limit office politics

Office politics may influence professional relationships. You can nurture positive professional relationships by avoiding gossip, being polite to others and prioritising your work. You can resolve conflict with others by speaking amicably and having open and honest conversations. In such cases, you may seek help from senior staff or the management to mediate a situation without bias.

4. Be reliable and respect others

Building any relationship requires trust. It involves making commitments, offering support and consistently keeping promises to prove others can rely on you. When you respect others, it creates a strong relationship, as it shows you value them and their ideas. Being reliable and respecting others enables you to relate well and get support from your colleagues.

5. Support and appreciate others

Supporting and appreciating others can help build good relationships at work. Genuinely complimenting those around you can make them feel valued and boost their morale. When you compliment and support others in the workplace, it lays a culture of goodwill, respect and mutual support, which builds effective relationships at work. You can focus on achievements, praise a job well done and contribute to funds for helping a colleague in need.

6. Be positive

Staying positive calms and motivates people even when in difficult situations and helps create a solution to problems. It requires offering encouragement through positive words and building excellent relationships in the workplace. You can help others and form strong bonds of friendship by maintaining a positive attitude.

Related: The Importance of Positive Feedback and How to Deliver It to Others

7. Timely completion of work

Timely completion of work ensures you fulfil your obligations in the company and team. It helps build positive professional relationships, as it shows others can rely on you to complete and produce a high standard of work on time. It can also create a positive environment with the management, which is crucial for career development since it shows professionalism and respect.

8. Follow company guidelines

Company guidelines provide insights into how to conduct work relations by describing duties and the expectations of everyone working for that company. Company guidelines help outline the boundaries expected between various roles and activities to be performed. They differ between companies, with some being more formal than others. You can get information about these rules from the human resource department or other available sources of information, such as dashboards, booklets or colleagues. Following company guidelines can help build a positive professional relationship with the management and your colleagues.

Why is it essential to build and maintain a positive professional relationship?

Healthy relationships at work are essential for a person's well-being and job performance. People spend much of their time working and interacting with others. This requires forming good relationships to enjoy working and performing at your optimal levels. When there's a positive work environment, morale and productivity may improve. You may feel comfortable and confident when taking part in discussions and decision-making.

Good relationships at work promote personal and career development since you can focus and spend time on only essential matters. They enable people to connect, network and exchange valuable information. Some benefits of having a good workplace relationship include:

  • Promotes personal growth: A good professional relationship with managers and colleagues minimises unhealthy competition and allows you to learn more from others. You can experience personal and career development from the knowledge and experience you gain from learning from others.

  • Enhanced productivity and job satisfaction: Productivity increases when people relate well. Also, improved productivity results from increased motivation, loyalty and job satisfaction.

  • Increased motivation: Good relationships in the workplace encourage people to give their best and excel since they feel appreciated and respected. It increases job satisfaction, making people happier and more productive.

  • Reduced workplace conflicts: Conflicts may occasionally arise in workplaces and require good professional relationships to help resolve them quickly. Resolving disputes quickly and fairly builds trust and confidence.

  • Creates a better workplace culture: Good professional relationships help build a better work culture through trust, respect and open communication. A positive atmosphere can make people happier and more engaged in their work.

  • Effective teamwork: Good professional relationships positively affect the team and their productivity. Team members benefit from effective professional relationships, since it involves respect, trust, inclusion and communication, which are essential for optimal functioning.

  • Higher retention rates: Increased job satisfaction and motivation from working in a positive environment often increase retention rates since people are unlikely to leave their current employment if it's providing a positive experience.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Skills for building professional relationships

You can use a combination of soft skills to build connections with coworkers and form professional relationships. In a workplace, these skills are vital in ensuring you work harmoniously with coworkers and for contributing to the team. Some of the skill sets that are essential in building excellent professional relationships include:


Working in teams requires building professional relationships. You may develop your team-building skills by ensuring excellent communication, respecting other people's ideas and assisting coworkers when necessary. Team members with strong professional relationships may collaborate to achieve common goals and experience increased satisfaction as a result of their professional relationships.

Related: How to Start Building Rapport With Your New Colleagues


Empathy means that you seek to understand the emotions and feelings of your coworkers and friends. Actively practising empathy at work can help you show your dedication to maintaining professional relationships with managers and teammates. Showing empathy during conversations can help you connect with others on a deeper level. It may show that you value the person you're communicating with.

Active listening

One of the essential parts of communication is active listening, which also helps build professional relationships. Active listening combines non-verbal cues, eye contact and asking relevant questions. Active listening shows you respect coworkers' ideas, which can further build good workplace relationships.

Emotional intelligence

To develop professional working relationships both in the workplace and beyond, emotional intelligence is beneficial. Emotionally intelligent people observe workplace dynamics and find ways of contributing to their teams. Emotional intelligence also helps in addressing challenges in the workplace and enables people to understand others' perspectives at work.


Being self-aware can help you identify your personal strengths, allowing you to help others. Guiding your team can help you establish positive relationships at work. It may also encourage your connections to help you when you're in need. Encouraging self-awareness can also help you recognise how you approach others. This skill may influence your body language to show you're friendly and approachable. Self-awareness can also help you determine how to may speak with specific individuals. For example, you may maintain professionalism when speaking to senior members and incorporate some humour when conversing with peers on your level.

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