Networking and Building Relationships (Part 3)

Soft skills to advance your career

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Part 3: Networking and Building Relationships within the Company

This article is part of a series of useful tips to help you find success in networking and building relationships within your company. We spend most of our lives building relationships, starting with the people closest to us such as our family and friends and later on, with our classmates in school and colleagues in the workplace. If we want to move forward in our career, building relationships is the first step towards the journey to success.

Note: This is a three-part series, be sure to read part one and part two.

Respect the Opinions of Others

When we disagree with someone, it’s easier to tell that person they’re flat out wrong than try to hear out their point of view and explain why we think they may be wrong. Starting on the wrong foot will not certainly help in building relationships with the people we expect to work closely with for a long time.

We often don’t take the time to examine why the other person thinks differently from us, because we firmly assume early on that we’re always right. If we’re overly adamant about our ideas and opinions, chances are that we won’t be sufficiently open-minded enough to honestly and objectively consider opposing viewpoints.

If you truly know the other person is wrong, try to avoid saying so directly. Doing so can make matters worse, as he or she may take it as an insult to his or her knowledge and intelligence. Being insensitive to the other person’s feelings can hurt our chances of building a professional relationship with that person. Remember that if we constantly tell a person they’re flat out wrong, we can hurt that person’s pride and make them feel inferior. What’s even worse is they’ll begin to resent us.

A decent way to approach such a situation is by asking a follow-up question, instead of making a firm, dismissive statement. For instance, try saying, “Why do you think that’s the best financing option to pursue our client? I thought otherwise. Though, I could be wrong. But if I am, I want to know why. Let’s look at the details.” The poor approach would be to say, “No, you’re absolutely wrong. That’s not how you deal with the client’s problem.”

As we can see, there can be a big difference in how we express things when we are in disagreement with someone. The first example is the better approach since we’re presenting ourselves as open-minded and fair. Rather than being contentious, our statement is disarming and still allows the other person to make their point. They’ll be more reasonable and open to considering our opposing viewpoint because we demonstrate that we are willing to listen to their opinion as well.

The next time you find yourself in a similar situation, remember to not threaten a person’s self-esteem (read more at Don’t directly attack their statements, because that tends to elicit a defensive reaction of striking back. Adjust your response, so that your ideas and opinions are welcomed and considered.

Networking and Building Relationships

Whenever You’re Wrong, Admit It Directly

When we collaborate with our team members to share our findings, opinions, and ideas, other people may either agree or disagree with us. As mentioned earlier, we tend to intrinsically feel that we are right most of the time. Being right often gets us praise for our work and admiration from others. More specifically, when we’re right, we look smart and very capable in front of our colleagues.

The problem with this is that sometimes we are afraid to make mistakes or just generally be wrong about anything. The feared repercussion is that we will look incompetent and unintelligent. Even if we eventually believe that we’re wrong and people have proven us wrong, we can still feel the urge to mask our mistake because our egos are being bruised. Rather than directly admit that we’re wrong, we go into defensive mode to protect ourselves from any embarrassment or rebuke.

Not immediately admitting we’re wrong can only worsen the situation. We only hurt our working relationship with others. Furthermore, it prolongs solving the actual problem, since we now become focused on proving others wrong and try to dance around the situation. This often leads to nothing positive being accomplished.

The best thing to do is to quickly admit our mistake. As long as we’re sincere and humble about it, and make an effort to learn from it, we can avoid doing it again in the future. Most of the time, most people have a forgiving attitude. Readily admitting when you’re wrong about something can be one of the best ways to foster good relationships with others, because it makes them feel more at ease raising questions about something when they feel the need to do so. They won’t be held back for fear of arousing a hostile emotional reaction from you.

Next time we find ourselves mishandling a particular task or activity at work, immediately point it out to our superior. Our superior and co-workers are more likely to trust us, since we’re showing that we are honest, responsible, and diligent.


Always Be Friendly in Your Approach

Approaching co-workers in a friendly manner is the best way to interact with them and achieve our objectives with their help, rather than being upset, angry, aggressive, or even arrogant. A peaceful dialogue is more likely to occur when we aren’t harboring any negative feelings toward a person. In particular, if our objective is for the other person to agree with our way of thinking, then we must prevent ourselves from provoking the other person. If we look forward to building relationships with our co-workers, a friendly disposition goes a long way toward achieving our objective.

A co-worker might have upset us in the past. It could be that the person was too critical about our work or simply did not treat us with respect like everyone else. How we talk to, or work with, that person may have become cold and antagonistic. Simply put, we just don’t like that person at all. However, maintaining an attitude like this for a long time will not be beneficial for the progress of our work or the advancement of our career.

As much as possible, strive to be in good terms with everyone. Try sitting down with the person we’re having issues with and discussing the issues thoroughly to have a better understanding of where we disagree. Don’t avoid any issues that can be fixed, as most are fixable. There’s a huge chance that the other person agrees on many things with us and differs only on a few. So don’t avoid a person just because you don’t like them. Work to replace anger or frustration with a friendly, gentle, and calm behavior. This way, we’ll be able to shift the other person’s perspective of us and have a much better chance of convincing them of the points we’re trying to make.

Just like how we would approach any of our friends, we also should greet our co-workers cheerfully. Start by exchanging pleasantries. For example, ask about how the person’s day is going so far. Talk about current events that’ll trigger a continuous conversation. Learn about the other person’s interest or hobbies and try to build upon that. This helps make the person comfortable with chatting and listening to us. The more we spend time with them, the more we get to truly know them and vice versa. Once they feel positive about us, we can then introduce more serious issues that we want to go over with them. By being friendly in the beginning, we’ll have much more influence in convincing the person to agree with us.

Building Relationships

Learn more!

Thank you for reading part 3 of CFI’s guide to networking and building relationships. CFI offers hundreds of free resources to help you add to your skills and advance your career in the financial world:

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