For many people the month of February is associated with Valentine’s Day (or if you’re a leap day baby like me, that extra day every four years is your own holiday). This national holiday we just recently observed is a day dedicated to showcasing your love for your significant other, family members, or friends. Some people refer to it as a cliché “Hallmark Holiday” or my personal favorite, the “Single Awareness Day”.
However you view it, the holiday is centered on the idea of relationships. Regardless of the type of relationship, there are several common characteristics that are essential to not only building a successful relationship, but also maintaining it.
These elements can be translated into nearly every type of relationship from a personal one to a professional one. Here are a few key elements to help create a positive, productive, and sustainable relationship:
Communication is one of the most crucial components in any relationship. Most problems tend to surface when there is a lack of effective communication. It is critical to be open and honest with the other person from the start. If you have an issue or a problem, communicate this to that person in a timely manner so you can talk through it together. It is important to establish an open line of communication between one another because that will help to establish the next essential component, trust.
Trust is the essential piece, the “glue”, to what holds a relationship together. This element in particular may take the longest to create and also can be the easiest to destroy. It is a delicate balance that requires effort on both ends to prove both people are consistently dependable and reliable. Managers must trust their employees to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities and employees must also be able to trust their managers to give them honest feedback about their performance. Without this, the relationship will indeed suffer.
There will always be conflicts that arise in every type of relationship, but it is how you handle the issue that will separate a successful relationship from an unsuccessful one. The key idea behind conflict resolution is compromise. It is important to be able to actively listen and understand a person’s concerns and to determine the best solution to resolve the conflict. Keep an open mind and you will see that a little bit of compromise can go a long way.
When people feel appreciated, it can be a huge motivator and will also in turn generate a positive feeling within the relationship. If you work extremely hard on a difficult project and your boss gives you praise and appreciation for all of your effort, you will be more motivated to continue to work hard. Or if your colleague goes the extra mile on a team project or just to help you out, tell them how much you appreciate that. Knowing that you are valued by someone else helps establish a level of respect in a relationship that is fundamental to its success.
Having a feeling of mutual respect is essential to building a positive, lasting relationship. It is important for both parties to act in a respectful manner towards each other by being mindful of others feelings, beliefs, and values. Conduct yourself in a professional manner, praise other’s accomplishments when appropriate, and also maintain a strong sense of self-respect.
While there are many other elements that help foster the foundation for a healthy relationship, these are just a few key components to keep in mind. Take some time today to think about your own relationships with your boss, colleagues, friends or significant others. Which ones are thriving? Which ones may need a little more nurturing? Are any of the elements above missing in a relationship? Or, even if you have a successful, positive working relationship right now, is there an area that can be improved upon? As the old saying goes, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you". Almost everything you appreciate about your work and life will be about the relationships you have, so you will want to make sure it’s a good one.