Building Relationships

Fostering and sustaining healthy relationships is one of the greatest skills and challenges in the workplace. Ask a person who leaves or retires what they miss about the place, and the answer is always the people.

We spend the biggest part of our lives at work. Work consumes most of our time, so the people we work with are some of the most critical relationships we will ever have. There are many kinds of relationships and some are unhealthy. I need to honestly evaluate and analyze my work relationships to see how they sit with me. Am I OK with them or do some require work and remediation? Are some relationships unhealthy and require my taking steps to protect myself or to fix them, or do I learn to let go and form a polite truce?

I like to think I have formed some good, healthy, and productive relationships with my colleagues at GCC. I try to be that person who says she will do a thing, and then does the thing, preferably in a very timely manner. I try to be kind to people, because really, what does it cost me? I used to do telephone registration during peak enrollment periods and it was a stressful time for the students and for me. My goal was to somehow, someway, lighten every conversation I had. I was polite, cheerful, and efficient. I wanted to hear a smile in their voice by the end of our conversation. Most students responded positively to my attempts, but every once in a while I would get someone who wasn’t having it. I never had a really grumpy person, but I could tell my plan wasn’t working. In those instances, I would quickly process their transaction, wish them a good day and send them on their way. I guess I learned in the few minutes I had with people that I was there to fulfill their needs and did that to the best of my ability.

I try to do this with everyone I meet. I don’t have a lot of interaction with students, but when I walk across campus I try to make eye contact and smile or say hello. I don’t always do this, I try to be alert to non-verbal clues, but again, what does it cost me to be nice?

I find the old adage “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is so, so true in relationships with my work colleagues. I also find the practice of going out of my way to help another comes back to me ten-fold when I get on the phone to ask for help.

I don’t go to other colleges very often, so I find that is my next frontier. My plan is to build bridges and relationships with employees outside of GCC. Who knows what future friends are just waiting to be found?


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