Article by Mazen Bsat | 1 August 2020
It is a well-known fact that good human relationships are vital in companies whether they are small, medium-sized, or giant businesses. The relationship between people inside organisations is of great importance because it is the thermometer which distinguishes successful firms from the less successful. Trust and respect are the major ingredients for building any positive relationship in the workplace. Therefore, building positive workplace relationships is very important at a horizontal level as well as at the vertical level
What is meant by building positive workplace relationships?
In a positive workplace relationship, people listen to each other and try to understand others’ positions and feelings. The simplest way to understand what is important to another person or to a group is to ask, then listen to the answer. We all know when someone else is really interested in us. It is important that we act attentively and respectfully when dealing with people whether they have the same or different business or socio-economic level. This helps to make us feel accepted, rather than feel we are being judged. Listening leads to understanding; if you understand someone else fully, then you know what to do to get closer and work better together.
In positive business relationships, people feel more comfortable to express their positions and feelings openly. Sometimes we expect people – particularly those close to us at work – to understand what we want and to give us what we need instinctively. This is not that realistic. People are so complicated and react to events in such different ways that even when they have lived or worked together for some years, they can still surprise each other by some unpredictable reactions. We need to feel we can express our needs and feelings. By doing this we are more likely to get what we want, rather than expecting someone to notice what we want, then waiting for that person to give it to us.
In order to build positive relationships, we should treat ourselves and each other with respect. Respect is the core of any good relationship. We show respect by listening to the other person attentively and by trying to understand how they view things. Forming preconceived judgements based on prejudice does not build a positive environment in the workplace. You can respect people (even if you find their behaviour difficult to understand) by acknowledging that they are doing the best they can when their circumstances and history are taken into account.
Not everyone is the same
Another key to forming effective relationships is to accept that people are different. Differences between people are something normal. In a conversation where each person listens to the others, you may each discover a new truth that has different perspectives. If someone is willing to build positive relationships, they have to accept the opposing points of view. Learning to accept differences might take time and can be uncomfortable, but trying to understand them builds a strong foundation for an everlasting and positive workplace relationship.
Building positive relationships starts with a simple conversation
To build a relationship you first need to establish rapport. That means you need to make a connection and that starts with the first conversation, with friendly eye contact and a willingness to engage. Even if the first conversation is by email or on a platform such as Zoom or Skype, it has to demonstrate friendliness and a feeling of cooperation.
Without that, it is hard to get a relationship off the ground.
Everything starts with a conversation and that is where small talk comes in useful. Small talk eases the tension and breaks the ice. It’s an invitation to chat, to agree. Some people, for example, start small talk conversations about a common subject, or if you are British you talk about the weather. It is a neutral conversation which signals that you want to be friendly.
Building Positive Relationships in Schools
Now allow me to narrow down my piece of writing and tackle how to build positive relationships in schools. Let me talk about my experience working in a school in the capital city of Saudi Arabian Riyadh. I have been working in Najd National Schools in Riyadh for 27 years, quite a long time. Our school consists of two giant campuses: one for boys and one for girls with more than 4500 students and around 1000 staff members on the campuses. It is wise to know how to maintain good relationships in such a big place with thousands of people contacting each other every day.
First and foremost, it is necessary to understand the cultural differences of all people you are dealing with. Saudi Arabia is a rich country in the heart of the Middle East and the Gulf Region. It is rich economically and culturally. It is rich economically due to the existence of petroleum in its lands, it is number one in oil reserves in the world. It is culturally rich because it is the centre of the Islamic and Arabic world with all the rich and diversified traditions.
Here in our school, we have students mainly from Saudi Arabia, but there are some minorities from many Middle Eastern countries. Teachers and staff members are also from different cultures. Although there are some similarities among different cultures, there are many other differences. The key recipe is to understand and respect the students and staff members. It is very important to understand the emotional and educational needs of the students and respect and understand the cultural differences of the staff members in order to avoid any kind of misunderstanding that might occur.
In conclusion, building positive human relationships in any place where humans have to interact is vital. It allows humans to grow and prosper and creates an atmosphere of harmony where respect and trust are valued. To stifle the growth of good human relationships is to create an atmosphere of negativity which leads to stagnation and dissatisfaction.