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Making people connections at work is essential for women to move up the ladder – in addition to having a great record of work. Here are ways to connect in an authentic manner.
I recently had a female client who works as a senior manager with an IT firm. She primarily wanted to work on her business communication, particularly rapport building and people management. While probing, I realized that being a manager to a lot of male subordinates, she struggles to build a rapport with them beyond work.
She ends up having decent but transactional relationships with most of them. This does not help foster healthy work relationships because let’s face this, you spend the maximum amount of time at work. It is impossible to sustain a mechanical environment where you work, go back home and back.
You have to build a human connect, you have to engage with people, you have to share stories, you have to express, laugh and smile with others.
So in this article, I’m listing the top 3 rapport building concerns with awesome solutions.
I’ll take the liberty to mom preach you right now. First of all, if you don’t drink or smoke, that’s not the other person’s problem, that’s your problem. If anyone, you should be the one to make an attempt to feel comfortable in a group of drinkers or smokers. You have to look at the bigger picture in everything. It is all a game of intention.
When you build an intention to network or bond, you look for reasons ‘for’ and not ‘against’. Mostly, the discomfort of not belonging to the drinking group is yours, the insecurity and awkwardness is all yours which you successfully spread across to others like a virus. You start making others feel uncomfortable about their choices thereby sabotaging all the efforts to possible networking.
So I say, if you are truly charismatic, go and participate in the drinking gang as if nothing’s different. Grab a glass of juice or a mocktail and look forward to some amazing new discussions. Make your place and claim it. People will love your guts.
I agree, this can be a huge one. We usually get stuck with one or two colleagues because we feel awkward building new relationships at work. There are perception issues, confidence issues, loyalty issues, behavioral issues or core work related issues. While these could be valid reasons for you to keep to yourself, but keeping your long term vision intact, you will have to get out of your comfort zone and know more people.
There is a fundamental difference between rapport building and bonding. While rapport building is a casual connect with people, bonding is a much deeper and a more meaningful connection with only a selected few. So, do avoid mixing the two in your head.
You simply have to build rapport with most people at work. And you could start by keeping this golden rule in mind. Instead of asking ‘What and when’ questions, shift your focus to ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions. This simple shift in your ideology can change your work dynamics to a large extent. What and when questions are innately mundane. Think about it, you are always asked the same boring question “So, what do you do”?
Imagine if someone asked you “Hey that’s interesting, but how did you get into this”? Or “Why did you choose this career”? You will suddenly feel important, you’ll feel that someone has genuine interest to know more about you than the routine what you do and when did you start.
I have tons of amazing techniques on conversation starters which I would love to cover in some other segment.
Again, very valid. You have the complete right to decide how you want to spend your time at work, but then do not crib when you don’t feel a part of the office group or when you are not considered for the next big project opportunity. Your core/technical skills get you the job, but it is actually your people skills that decide how far you will go in the organization.
Right from getting better managerial roles to meaty projects, your relationship with your colleagues decides whether you are fit to be a leader. So if you’re not the one to get into petty politics or casual talk then don’t do that, but you could still be a part of the group.
You can contribute to discussions in many more ways than just being a part of the gossip. No one stops you from driving the conversation into some other direction. You have to do that subtly. When the time is right, you could pitch in a new idea for a team outing, or an interesting way to handle the latest project problem, or simply talk about general current affairs trending on social media.
These days, there are unlimited topics for discussion which do not directly involve you or any of your colleagues. And whenever the discussions around petty politics start again, then quietly move out saying you’re done for the day or you are headed for a client call. You can make many natural excuses. This makes for a perfect win-win situation.
I always maintain that to build awesome people connections at work, your first step is to have an intention. Because if you have a genuine interest in people, you will find your ways to belong!
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Closing the puzzle image via Shutterstock