First things first, let’s go back to basics. According to The Free Dictionary, a professional relationship is ‘the relation that exists when one person requests and is granted professional help from a qualified source’. Similarity, the definition from Vocabulary.com Dictionary is the same. However, in my own personal opinion, you don’t have to be a ‘qualified source’ to have a professional relationship with someone – I just view this type of relationship as typically ‘work-related’ and built on mutual respect as well as open communication, conscientiousness and value.
Introducing the famous ‘What’ – What characteristics do you need to build a healthy professional relationship?
Honesty & Open Communication – The most important thing to me when building a professional relationship is to feel comfortable and be honest when communicating with the other person, whether that’s via email, telephone or face to face interaction. Richer relationships are built when are you aren’t afraid of being honest and I believe that this also leads to building trust. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want someone in your team, to tell you that your work was ready to publish if it was riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Would you?
Mindfulness & Conscientiousness – Secondly, being mindful and conscientious about how others are feeling is a very important characteristic, that you must possess to be able to form these successful relationships in the workplace. Taking responsibility for your own feelings, words and actions whilst also being aware of others is a great place to start. You should also be aware of feelings such as tension as this could highlight that one person in the relationship may not be being so mindful of the other.
Empathy & Mutual Respect – It goes without saying that you need to be empathetic in any relationship that you form because listening to people and understanding them, rather than trying to fix their problems, is essential and increases the mutual respect. This mutual respect is all about getting what you give and if you give someone ‘good’, I’m a firm believer in that ‘good’ making its way back to you. (Karma, Law of attraction etc.)
Boundaries – Keeping boundaries in a professional relationship is again very important! This is because it prevents the relationship from becoming personal. Some professional relationships can become slightly ‘grey’ because of office banter, Monday-morning-weekend-catch-ups and also the want and just simple human nature to get to know your colleagues, however, you should always be mindful that this can become negative if our professional relationships start to monopolise our time.
Giving First & Value – When building a healthy professional relationship it’s always best to start off by giving something of value. This could be your time, a review or even a free tool, but make sure it’s something that will be of value to the other person. This will set a foundation of appreciation and trust and also allow you to show off your expertise.
Trust – This characteristic is built over time, but it can be done in many ways. By amalgamating all of the characteristics above you can build trust that will increase your credibility and allow the other person to feel comfortable around you and come to you for advice or guidance. For example: Leading with value, showing them your vulnerability, being honest and open with the other person and sticking to/respecting the boundaries whilst being conscious of their feelings.
Now that was all very wordy and packed with detail, but you might be struggling to see ‘why you would use those characteristics to build these professional relationships?’ Well I’ve done the hard bit for you and thought of 4 reasons why building these relationships is important and the benefits that you will reap.
- We are naturally social creatures and we crave relationships and positive interactions just as much as food and water. These positive, healthier, stronger relationships that are formed using the characteristics mentioned above will, in turn, allow us to be more productive. And who is saying no to increased productivity? No one.
- We spend long periods of our time at work, in fact, the average person will spend around 90,000 hours working in their lifetime. Crazy – but true. So next time you build one of these professional relationships, why not make it a positive and healthy one so that it increases the amount of happiness and fulfilment you gain from being at work. This will impact your wellbeing, your home life and also decrease your stress levels.
- Having professional relationships will be one of the contributing factors that will influence your professional development. Statistically, you are more likely to develop in your career or business when you have people around you whom you trust, who are honest and open to you about what you could do better and who treat you with mutual respect. Why? Because these people are going to push you to be and do better!
- A healthy professional relationship is paramount to increasing your sales because success in these key relationships is essential! Better relationships = more sales and it really is that simple. You wouldn’t read something from someone whom you didn’t believe in, so therefore you wouldn’t buy their book. You wouldn’t invest in a house from someone who was dishonest about the amount you had to pay. And you certainly wouldn’t buy something from someone who was disrespectful or who overstepped your boundaries. Can you see where I’m going with this…? Having these positive professional relationships allows sales to happen naturally because prospective customers buy into YOU. (Very important if you own your own business)
Now you’ve got the key characteristics of someone looking to build a healthy professional relationship and you’ve expanded your knowledge about why building these types of relationships are so important. So next up is how to implement this learning into your everyday life.
- First of all, you need to develop your people skills (these are what people call ‘soft skills’) such as listening, empathy, communication etc. This will be what will make you stand out in comparison to others who haven’t quite mastered them yet.
- Identifying your needs is next up and it’s important because it allows you to work out what you need from others or in fact what others might need from you. This will give you the reason behind forging this relationship because you don’t want to put your time and energy into something that isn’t of any benefit to you.
- Schedule in time to make time for this new relationship and bear in mind that this doesn’t have to be a lot, even 5 mins a day to smile or forward someone some helpful information is a good way to get things started. Obviously once this professional relationship blossoms you’ll probably find yourself having to spend more time with each other, in a more structured setting such as a meeting or briefing.
- Finally, focus on your EI (Emotional Intelligence) and actually tune in to be able to understand yourself and others, be positive and listen. In my opinion, people respond better to others who listen because it establishes trust and this is crucial.
I hope that you found this article useful and I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to message me directly or leave a comment on this post. Alternatively, let’s carry on the conversation – email me: firstname.lastname@example.org