Fostering Positive Relationships at Work

Last week I had the honor of presenting to a group of communications professionals from another agency; I was the last speaker in a two-day conference. The topic was fostering positive relationships at work. I shared some thoughts on this topic with the group and put them through a little exercise on making connections. The feedback was positive, and I left with a warm feeling that I had given them some tools they could put into action back at their offices, and maybe even a little inspiration.

I had spent one hour with this group. The activity I mentioned took less than 15 minutes from start to finish. It’s been over a week since I was with that group but I can’t stop thinking about what I saw as I watched them interact with one another during the activity – the one that took less than 15 minutes.

Time. We talk about it so often. There are quotes about time from the wise women and men of our world’s history, witticisms about time, sayings our parents and grandparents used about time, and of course a multitude of memes about time. Here are a few of my favorite quotes about time:

“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.” – Unknown

“Time is very slow for those who wait. Very fast for those who are scared. Very long for those who celebrate. But for those who love, time is eternal.” – William Shakespeare

“We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.” – Alice Booth

The core of my presentation last week was about time; about taking the time to invest in those around you. The activity demonstrated that by spending just a few minutes, you can positively impact any relationship.

According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, Americans who work full-time spend an average of 8.5 hours on the job each day, Monday through Friday. That’s 42.5 hours per week. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 hours per year (leaving time for holidays and vacations). That’s a tremendous amount of time!

Does anyone honestly believe it’s possible to separate your personal life from your work life when we spend so much time at work? Even the world’s finest compartmentalizers can’t keep the two from bleeding into one another at times.

It only takes a few minutes to connect with someone at work in a way that will leave you both feeling more positive and invested in the relationship, and this positive interaction also has the potential to improve how you work together. It creates a ripple that can affect entire teams, departments, agencies and even organizations. All it takes is someone to be the first to drop that time-investment stone into the pond. I dare you to give it a try.

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Amy DeWolf

Love this post! I can be guilty of this myself, using “time” as en excuse to not chat with people on a more personal level at work, but it is so important! We have “coffee time” here at GovLoop, where you get our of the office for 30 minutes each month with a new coworker. The idea is just as you say, to connect with folks and build stronger relationships!

Avatar photo Blake Martin

Loved reading this, Lisa. Seconding Amy, I am a big believer in “scheduled fun,” so to speak. We all could be doing something more ‘productive’ as it relates to work output, but I think in the long run it is an even better use of your time to build a relationship with someone else in your org on a personal level. That said, I think the quickest solution around the time excuse is to actually find and hold the time! Hold an hour for an actual lunch break, plan to take a quick 10-15 minute walk around the facilities, or just plan on a time to go grab a coffee with someone – all of these are low impact on schedules and get you building relationships with colleagues.

Jacob Hege

Such an important part of the workplace! Without a strong social culture and good relationships at work, a great job can quickly turn into an awful one.