Building Working Relationships Despite Different Walks of Life

When Aristotle called us “social animals” a couple of millennia ago, it was easy enough for him to say. After all, he didn’t work in a cubicle, he didn’t have to juggle work life balance and he certainly didn’t have quotas to meet. Today’s “go-go-go” lifestyle presents new challenges. Sometimes it’s easy to think – “who has time to make friends?”

Hopefully, we do. Speed and efficiency are important in many aspects of the workplace, but there’s no substitute for human bonds. We’re biologically wired to want to be around other people, and when we’re on the job, we often have the opportunity to interact with people we would never meet otherwise.

This can make things tricky; it isn’t always easy for people with totally different life experiences to connect. However, when we make the effort, the rewards – both personally and professionally – are well worth it. So, where do we start? It’s simple: just stop, look, and listen.

  • Stop. The human brain tends to rush to snap judgments when it first meets someone new based on biases and stereotypes. We can’t help what pops into our brain, but you can stop yourself when you have those thoughts and recognize that you don’t know this client or co-worker yet. This is your opportunity to change that.
  • Look. Examine the person’s situation – what they do, where they are in their organization – so that you can picture everything they say and do in context.
  • Listen. There’s no better way to learn about someone than by hearing them out. Pay active attention to your customers and colleagues. They’ll appreciate it, and you’re bound to learn something new about another human being. What’s better than that?

A good team dynamic is instrumental to professional success and personal enrichment. Take a little extra time to get the ball rolling – it’s easier than you think!