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Building relationships in the work place

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Reflecting back on our careers, we recognize how the significance of building healthy relationships could have better equipped us within our workplace. The outcome of a dysfunctional relationship and its future ramification is an unknown. After 30 years of coaching, supervising and mentoring, I have applied four tools to forge and sustain relationships: listening, trust, mutual respect and attitude. Unfortunately, I'm still a "work in progress."

Listening is the primary behavior skill required for all good relationships. One of the most difficult things to do in any relationship is to listen effectively without blame, passing judgment or expressing "you need too's" and "you should's." Additionally, it's difficult to take the time to listen without allowing distractions to give the recipient undivided attention. How many times have you been talking to someone and they reach for their smart phone to reply to a text? Listening without interruption shows respect and builds trust as well. So, how do you improve listening? Practice!

Building trust is vital to workcenter relationships. It is built, earned and maintained by the smallest events over time through integrity and a consistency in your interactions with co-workers. Trust is fragile. While conveying the truth, especially when difficult, be forthcoming, genuine and trustworthy in all actions with subordinates, peers and leaders alike. Work trust, once destroyed, is difficult to regain. How do you sustain trust? Tell the truth at all cost.

Mutual respect is a top priority in the Air Force. More than a third of our time is spent at our workplace. It's imperative to foster a positive and gregarious environment; yielding a thriving interpersonal rapport. While there is hierarchy in any organization, it is essential to foster and preserve a culture of respect where there is mutual regard and appreciation among employees especially when it comes to a relationship between a manager and his team. How do you instill mutual trust? Treat individuals the way you would like to be treated.

The power of attitude is an infectious and precious possession. Maintaining a positive and healthy mental attitude is an essential tool to becoming more effective and productive throughout your daily rituals. If you habitually utilize this behavior, conscientiously over time, the result will be a higher level of optimism throughout your daily endeavors. Attitude is a choice. Choose to be positive.

Listening effectively, building trust and demonstrating mutual respect while maintaining a positive attitude are building blocks for fruitful professional relationships. The dividends will be priceless and forever.