Shanti has been thinking of quitting her job for some months. She’s worried about her aging parents who live in a different city. The guilt of not being around them is affecting her performance at work. Her manager senses something is wrong and calls her for a chat.

Shanti explains her dilemma to her manager with whom she has a good equation. The manager understands her problem and decides to let her work as an independent consultant from her hometown. This will allow her to live with her parents and continue working for the firm.

Shanti always maintained good interpersonal relationships at work., which made it easy for her to confide in her manager. This helped her discuss her problems openly and together, they came up with an effective solution.

At the workplace, interpersonal relationships can make or break a team. Achieving organizational goals depends on how well you function as part of a group. Working like a well-oiled machine requires a strong network in and outside the workplace.

Let’s look at the definition of interpersonal relationships and the importance of a strong, resilient professional network.

What Are Interpersonal Relationships?

A family, a group of friends or a team function well because of interpersonal relationships. The meaning of interpersonal relationships is how you connect with someone else—the way you communicate with them or understand them, and vice versa. It’s a two-way street that requires a free-flow of communication and a deep understanding of one another.

A good interpersonal relationship is most apparent at home, between a parent and a child or between siblings. At work, it could be your relationship with your manager, a junior or a peer. It’s important to build a network of trusted individuals who can help you in crisis.

Here are a few characteristics of a good interpersonal relationship:

  1. Interdependence

If you have a strong interpersonal relationship with your team member, you can lean on each other when the going gets tough. Sometimes when you’re working on a project, tasks are interdependent and that calls for collaboration. Maintaining good interpersonal relationships can help you and your colleagues mitigate potential problems and function smoothly.

  1. Conflict Resolution

It’s common to experience conflicts or challenges in the workplace. A good interpersonal relationship can help you withstand these setbacks, with support from trustworthy people. You’ll learn to hear the other person out before jumping to conclusions or reach a consensus.

  1. Accountability 

A strong interpersonal relationship encourages you to be honest about your work with your colleagues, own up to your mistakes and be accountable for your decisions. It’s important to step up if you’ve made a mistake because it can impact your team and the organization.

  1. Respect 

One of the tenets of workplace relationships is being respectful toward your coworkers. This is how you build rapport and rely on one another. Respecting your coworkers’ time and effort and appreciating their work is part of building lasting relationships.

  1. Trust

An interpersonal relationship is built on trust. It’s about depending on others for work, and in turn, giving them a helping hand. Trusting your coworkers enough to work together with them on important tasks, sharing your workload and achieving organizational goals are the foundation of a healthy work environment.

Interpersonal Relationships At Work

At work, the most important thing is to build a sustainable network of mutually-beneficial relationships. If you want to make progress in your organization, rather than doing it alone, do it as a team.

Workplace relationships are built on trust because this is how you can assess each other’s needs and work together to achieve larger goals. Harappa Education’s Expanding Networks course sheds light on the four factors of trust in the workplace:

  1. Credibility

This defines your competency to take on complex tasks and challenges. For instance, your manager is likely to trust you with important tasks if they believe that you’ve got the right skills. It’s important to establish your credibility in the workplace if you want to distinguish yourself. You must aspire to be known for your efficiency and become a valuable member of your team.

  1. Reliability

For someone to depend on you, you have to come across as a reliable employee. Say that there’s an urgent client meeting but the person in charge is on sick leave. If you are a reliable team member, your manager and coworkers will know they can count on you to come through for your organization. Stepping up to the task, even if it’s not your own, is part of being reliable. This is an important aspect of building trust in your network.

  1. Openness

It’s important to be approachable and friendly at the workplace. Everyone’s working hard to achieve organizational goals. You should build amicable relationships wherein your coworkers can reach out to you in case they’re going through a difficult time. In turn, they’ll be willing to support you during your difficult time. We spend a significant amount of time at work, which makes it necessary to be on good terms with coworkers. Otherwise, it can lead to hostility and conflict.

  1. Level Of Self-orientation

There are times when you have to put others’ needs before your own. This is commonly observed in personal relationships, but not so much in professional relationships. It’s a competitive environment but it doesn’t have to be cutthroat. If you can lend a hand or lighten your coworker’s workload, it’ll help you nurture long-term relationships with them. Building strong bonds with the people you work with is a fulfilling and meaningful way to live.

Why You Need A Strong Network

“The true value of networking doesn’t come from how many people we can meet but rather how many people we can introduce to others.”

Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, talks about the true value of networking. A strong network is one where you have allies and a support system where people look out for one another. The importance of building interpersonal relationships can be understood in the context of establishing a strong network.

Here’s an example:

Imagine your friend is in a bind and looking for work urgently. They’re facing financial difficulties and reach out to you for help. You know someone in your network who can help. Within a month, your friend is settled in their new job because you were able to use your connections to help them.

Not only did your professional network come through for your friend, but it also put its faith in you by accepting someone on your recommendation.

A strong network is like a good elevator pitch. Your introduction or your elevator pitch is what gets you a foot in the door. This 30-second self-introduction is a glimpse of who you are and what your potential is. Your network is also a reflection of your professional experience and achievements.

Networking Is Not…

Achieving your goals becomes easier when you have people to lean on. At the same time, it’s important to note what networking is not about. It’s not about:

  • Gaining more followers on social media with no direct relation to your professional aspirations

  • Simply exchanging business cards for the sake of it

  • Attending networking events so you can build connections with powerful industry professionals

Building interpersonal relationships isn’t about being social or outgoing. It’s about building strategic, respectful and trustworthy relationships in a professional setting. For instance, if you work in the art industry, your professional network will comprise artists, curators and gallery owners. You might even know people from other industries like publishing or academia.

Everyone has something to gain from others but not in a way that defines your relationship. If you can reach out to someone for help, it’ll add value to your professional life. If used correctly and ethically, interpersonal relationships can help you accomplish your goals and realize your ambitions.


The way you envision your professional life may not be the same as others. Maybe you want to be an entrepreneur or work as a freelancer. Even then, interpersonal relationships can help you establish yourself as an admirable professional. It’s a continuous cycle of trust and dependability wherein you lean on others and vice-versa to achieve your goals.

Using your skills and abilities to build lasting and meaningful relationships is at the heart of Harappa’s Expanding Networks course. Not only will you learn the basics of how to build your professional network but also ways to develop constructive relationships. Our core concepts and frameworks, such as the Trust Equation, will teach you all you need to know about networking. Stick to the people who build you up rather than those who put you down!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the COLLABORATE Habit such as Building Relationships & How to Build Rapport and build strong professional relationships.

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