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Employers want workers who offer certain skill sets, including operating basic office equipment, working effectively with clients or understanding government regulations related to their field. But managers also look for employees with strong relational skills, as workers who can build and maintain healthy, productive relationships with co-workers and supervisors are assets to the team. Identifying powerful relational skills within the workplace can help you determine those areas where you might seek improvement for greater professional success.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Relational skills in the workplace can include listening, patience, trustworthiness and approachability.
Active Listening Skills
Even the most verbose, articulate communicators sometimes struggle with listening skills. Active listening facilitates more effective communication, arriving at accurate conclusions more rapidly and avoiding communication breakdowns. Within the workplace, develop listening relational skills by focusing on what speakers are saying rather than formulating your next response.
Make eye contact with speakers, nod to show comprehension and take notes if it seems appropriate. Taking notes is a way to focus your listening, indicating interest in the speaker and ensuring that you won’t forget the information.
Patience and Avoiding or Diffusing Conflicts
The workplace can be a frustrating environment. Clashing personalities, deadline-related tension or financial pressures can create professional pressure cookers that leave employees and managers on edge. Patience is a key relational skill that helps avoid or diffuse interpersonal conflicts.
Demonstrate patience by offering to listen when colleagues or staff members want to explain their viewpoints, and think twice before curtly reprimanding workers, as their resentment may have lasting effects. Don’t make rash personality assessments about other workers; instead, give colleagues or staff members the benefit of the doubt if they seem to be struggling with an issue.
Trustworthiness and Confidentiality
Trustworthiness is another crucial workplace relational skill. If you’re the recipient of someone’s confidence, whether personal or professional, take care to keep their information private (unless the confidence involves illegal or unprofessional actions, such as a confession to using illegal drugs in the workplace). Developing a reputation for spreading gossip or badmouthing colleagues will diminish your professionalism. Don’t take office supplies home for personal use, don’t steal colleagues’ clients or ideas, and maintain consistency between your words and actions.
Approachability and Warmth
Having a haughty or frosty personal demeanor doesn’t make you appear important; it creates an unpleasant impression on colleagues, clients or staff members. Approachability is a relational skill that facilitates communication. If you’re a manager, staff members feel welcome to share innovative ideas and suggestions, report problems in the workplace and develop a personal rapport that can boost motivation and commitment. If you’re a supervised employee, approachability can make managers feel confident in assigning you more responsibility and working with you to develop strengths or address weaknesses.
Increase approachability by smiling and making eye contact with people when passing in the hallways or stopping to ask co-workers how projects are progressing. Keeping a bowl of candy on your desk or posting photos of your children can encourage people to stop by your desk.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.