Influencing people is the key to getting people to do something for you when they don’t directly report to you. You can be a developer, network engineer, project manager, or an executive and if you don’t have solid relationships with the people in your organization you won’t be able to influence people and your career will become stagnant. Just because you haven’t “clicked” with your team yet, doesn’t mean it can’t still happen. There are ways to figure out what makes the people around you tick and see how that links you both. With some thoughtfulness and strategy, you can build relationships with your peers, leadership and business stakeholders.
Be an Active Listener
Part of what breaks down relationships between coworkers is a lack of understanding about the other person. Why is this? A huge reason is that no one is really listening. Oh, we hear others just fine. But there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. When you practice active listening, you’re listening to understand, not to respond. A way to convey this to the other person is by asking intelligent questions about what they said, to clarify what they’re communicating. You want your coworkers to really know you, right? Well, start by trying to really learn who they are. Listen to what they’re saying and pay attention to the subtle inferences. You can learn a lot about a person by what they’re not saying.
Know the Facts
What’s their name? If you can’t get this basic information down, you’re in major trouble. Know their name, remember information about their family, be aware of what is important to them in their lives. You may have too many people at work to go in-depth with all of them, which may not be a wise move regardless. At least know their names and then find out something of significance about each of them. Note their name, their partners name, kids names, areas of responsibility or any other facts about them in their contact in your phone so you don’t have to only rely on your memory.
When someone has the thoughtfulness to ask about something that’s important in your life, it makes you feel like they see you as important. Create this bonding feeling in others.
Be Willing to Share
No, this isn’t about being willing to lend your stapler to the guy two cubicles over, though that would be nice. This is more about participating in another’s life. Did someone you’ve spent some time talking with get promoted or scored that big contract? Share in their excitement. Congratulate them. Don’t even allow jealousy or envy to brew. Also, the reverse. Maybe they’ve suffered a family setback, and they share that with you. You may have no idea how they’re feeling but be willing to express a response.
Look for the Best
Probably everyone can think of that one person at the office who rubs them the wrong way. Rather than dwell on his or her annoying traits, do your best to discover something positive about that person. Maybe they’re good collaborators or are willing to do the jobs that others aren’t. You can always find the bright side and changing your attitude about them will help you out a lot when interacting with them. Who knows, maybe there are those at work who you unwittingly annoy. You’d certainly want them to recognize the good qualities you have, rather than only focus on that one thing.
You’re not going to walk into the office tomorrow and find everyone eager to shake your hand and share about their lives. In fact, that would probably be a little weird. The key to building relationships, for the first time or continuously, is time and effort.
The office isn’t your social playground, but it doesn’t have to be a cold, unfriendly, lonely place either. If you’re willing to take that first step and start working on developing relationships, others will be much more interested in meeting you halfway. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find your next good friend at work or get a promotion because of your ability build relationships and influence others.