It’s been said that coworkers are like family. Because like family, you usually don’t get to choose them. That can make for complicated workplace dynamics and gaining respect from your peers isn’t always automatic.
As you might imagine, you can’t be an effective leader unless your team trusts and respects you, your ideas and your strategic goals. Which is not to say that being liked doesn’t matter. It’s just that at work, being respected matters a fair amount more. And the good news is that it’s not all that hard to earn that credibility.
In fact, we have some pretty straightforward and simple relationship building tips that you can start implementing right away.
1. What you do, not what you say. Being someone that others can count on doesn’t mean being perfect, but it does mean that you need to work hard at resolving any flaws, weaknesses or missteps. Persistency isn’t the most glamorous word, but sometimes it’s what you need to get the job done and get people to count on you. Words matter, but it’s staying true to your word that matters most.
2. Face-to-face is worth a 1000 emails. Email, IM and texts are great for simple, straightforward things. But when it comes to communicating the really important stuff, nothing tops a good, old-fashioned face-to-face meeting. Of course, schedules don’t always allow for that. So when email is the only option, try having a quick follow up chat to nip any confusion in the bud.
3. Say it without words. It’s been estimated that 65-75 percent of communications is nonverbal. You may not even realize it, but you are reacting to your coworker’s visual cues all the time, and they are reacting to yours. People respond to authentic leaders that bring a calming influence while being assertive when needed.
4. Today’s hyper-litigious reality. Whether it’s in an email, on the phone or at the old water cooler, it’s easy for an off-handed comment to be misconstrued. The reality is people often get in trouble, even if there was no malicious intent. And the higher up you are, the more that is true. So why rush out a response? A good leadership habit is taking the time to properly craft all your messages.
5. Don’t fear the apology. No one is perfect, not even you. So when a mistake happens, just be honest and admit it right away. Apologize and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Acknowledging your faults shows honesty that’s essential to being a successful leader.
Still wondering what your coworkers really think of you? Like any relationship, you need to work at it. Remember that work people are still people, so rely on your intuition and be genuine. There’s no faking it, so put some effort into really getting to know your coworkers, seek out their opinion, and spend time with them when you don’t have to.
When you put it all together, good leadership comes down to trust. Show you care about the person and that they aren’t just a means to an end. And we are talking about work, so show your committed to a job-well-done. When you help others advance their careers, you’ll advance yours as well.
These insights into building effective workplace relationships come to you courtesy of Gonzaga University’s Communication and Leadership Studies program (COML). We’re combining leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills to create the type of leaders tomorrow’s organizations will demand.