The Association Blog

News, ideas & inspiration from industry leaders


Want to Build Stronger Work Relationships? Here Are 3 Things to Avoid

October 18, 2020, Brett Cooper

Important truth about leadership: It’s virtually impossible to achieve goals without teamwork. How to keep those collaborative relationships strong and productive? The author, Brett Cooper of Integris Performance Advisors, shares 3 key ways.

Building relationships in the workplace is one of the most important aspects of working together as a team. Without effective teamwork, achieving results is next to impossible.

One of the most effective ways to keep relationships at work healthy and positive is to remain focused on mutual goals and a shared dedication to the work at hand. Allowing personal differences or misunderstandings to get in the way of achievement can ruin those critical working relationships.

Here are three ways to avoid souring collaborative relationships in the workplace:

1. Avoid Reacting Impulsively 

Reacting too quickly to something that could be perceived as negative is likely to lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The impulsive desire to respond to a message or behavior that’s perceived as undesirable keeps the interaction in a negative space. The back-and-forth dialogue can become personal, and thus misdirect the focus from the important issues at hand.

Instead, when encountering something perceived as negative or undesirable, try waiting a day or two to respond. Stepping back and taking time to calm down can help ensure the response has an appropriate tone and focus. 

2. Avoid Interrupting Your Teammates 

Again, the key is to avoid reacting impulsively and impatiently.

Allowing the other person to speak fully and freely, to finish getting their idea or opinion out onto the table in their own way, allows them to feel they have been completely heard, which is much more likely to encourage them to listen to what else is being offered on the subject.

Actually hearing each other out allows everyone to feel valued and lines up with the core principle of trust among team members.

3. Avoid Stereotyping

Team members’ knowledge about their own personalities and workstyles, and about the preferences and tendencies of their teammates, can assist in the development of valuable relationship-building skills.

However, that useful information can also be mishandled or misinterpreted, morphing into a mechanism for labelling teammates.

Labeling coworkers as one type or another (you can read more about those personality types herecan lead to a failure to listen to them fully. Such stereotypes can lead to avoiding communication with certain coworkers viewed as difficult, or to a counterproductive level of caution in important interactions where open discussion is critical.

For more on how to increase your emotional intelligence and to learn how to streamline processes to get more work done as a team, consider the self-paced Certificate in Organizational Leadership, co-taught by Brett. (And P.S. Members of The Association get 33% off registration.)

Additional Resources

Blog: Workplace Culture Agreements: 4 Quick Q&As 
Blog: Leading Remotely: 5 Ways to Build Team Cohesion
Blog: DEI Roundtable: 4 Top Takeaways

About Brett Cooper
Brett M. Cooper is the President of Integris Performance Advisors, a professional development firm he co-founded to expand the existence of healthy organizations and great places to work. Brett is the performance consultant for San Diego Humane Society, and earned an MBA in Finance from NYU's Stern School of Business, and a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from San Diego State University. He is one of the instructors for The Association's Certificate in Organizational Leadership.

Leave a Reply