Positive Path Recommended Reading

Rating your relationships at work
By Karen Schmidt

Human beings are social creatures. To varying degrees, we all need other people around us and it’s the same at work. So how would you rate your relationships at work? Relationships can exist on many levels. When you communicate with people you are often communicating to them the level of relationship you are seeking. So let’s look at the types of relationships you can have.

Not really interested in an ongoing relationship but we may be forced to deal with this person on a short term basis. For example, the person who sits next to you on a plane.

We say hello, please and thank you but they don’t really mean anything. We are unlikely to remember anything much about the person. For example, the person serving you at the supermarket.

For some people this is their lowest level relationship. Friendly is when we start to have genuine interest in the other person so when we smile we really mean it. For example, a neighbour you encounter regularly.

Beyond friendly, we get co-operative so now we are likely to go out of our way to help the other person. For example, helping your neighbour carry a heavy parcel.

The relationship has now taken on a signification level of interaction. A supportive person keeps in contact regularly and offers help. For example, minding your neighbours pet while they are on holiday.

The highest level of a relationship occurs when there is more than just practical support. The encouraging relationship demonstrates a real concern for others and a willingness to put their needs ahead of yours. For example, encouraging your spouse to change jobs and being willing to make sacrifices while they adjust.

For many of us, our relationships start out at a lower level and progress up the hierarchy as we develop trust and rapport with the other person. However, there are two other extremes to consider. Some people deliberately don’t form relationships past the friendly level for fear of being hurt. At the other end of the scale, some people are so trusting of others they jump quickly to the supportive level even if the other person isn’t ready for it.

So how would you describe your relationships with the following people?

Partner/spouse   Neighbours
Children   Manager
Parents   Staff
Siblings   Work colleagues
Extended family   Customers
Close friends   Suppliers
Casual friends    

Are you happy with this type of relationship? Do you think it is at the appropriate level? What would happen if you escalated the relationship by one level?

Relating well to others is an important workplace skill. It’s a good idea to review your relationships at regular intervals to see if you need to do any work on them.

About the Author: Karen Schmidt is an award winning professional speaker, workshop leader and author who is on a mission to create fresh workplace attitudes that help people and organisations grow!. Karen believes you can increase productivity and bottom line results if your people have the right attitude in 5 key areas of: work, change, customers, people and managing. To find out more visit

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