How To Build Supportive Relationships In The Workplace

Here are some suggestions on how to build supportive relationships.

Homophily × Proximity. Begin to seek out and develop sources of social and professional support. The formula for doing so is quite simple: homophily × proximity. First identify individuals whom you believe are likely to share attitudes and values of compassion and mutual support (homophily). Then frequent places where you are likely to encounter such people. Go there on a regular basis (proximity). Proximity is the best predictor of
relationship formation.

Show Appreciation. If you want to be appreciated, show appreciation. As philosopher and psychologist William James said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the desire to be appreciated.” Here are some guidelines for how to best show appreciation:
• Regarding children, provide safety and compassionate guidance.
• To the elderly, show respect and gratitude.
• Regarding your employer, earn your income.
• To those who rely on you, provide presence and unwavering support.
• To a friend, show loyalty.
• To your spouse, show honor and fidelity.

Be Patient. Control impulsive urges. Be patient with yourself and others.

Hanlon’s Razor. Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. In other words, don’t take things personally. People really are inconsiderate at times, and it has nothing to do with you.

Listen to Others, Especially Before You Speak. People who possess extraordinary interpersonal skills are good listeners. In even the briefest of encounters, they can make you feel important. When you listen to people, truly listen. Look at the other person with interest. Do not multitask. Any time you have to say, “Go ahead, I’m listening,” you’re really not.

Practice the WAIT Principle. WAIT is an acronym for Why Am I Talking? Pause before you speak. Most important, ask yourself two questions: (1) Where are my words likely to direct the conversation? and (2) How would I feel if someone said that to me?

The Power of the Paraphrase. When someone has finished making a point, use that person’s name, and then paraphrase in your words the essence of what you understood that person to say. Then ask a follow-up question.

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