Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Effective communication in the workplace

4.4 Building trust and relationships

You’ll have realised by now that the most important elements of effective communication overlap and interlink. For example, building trust is much easier if you can show empathy for the other person, actively listening and asking them the effective questions as you build your relationship.

Watch this short video from Accredited Skills to learn more.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 5
Skip transcript: Video 5

Transcript: Video 5

A team without trust isn't really a team. It's just a group of individuals working together, often making disappointing progress. They may not share information. They might battle over rights and responsibilities, and they may not cooperate with one another.
It doesn't matter how capable or talented you are. If you can't build relationships fast, then you may never reach your full potential.
One of the best selling books on the subject of building relationships and trust is How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie's 1936 classic has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. The book has stood the test of time and includes advice which is still relevant today. Carnegie's book covers some very simple concepts, but it claims to bring about some drastic results.
Take, for example, his advice on showing a genuine interest in other people. Carnegie believed that you can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years spent trying to get people interested in you.
When you find yourself meeting new people, try to become genuinely interested in the other person, even if you think you have nothing in common. The road to a person's friendship is to talk about the things he or she treasures the most. Carnegie considers this to be a skill which can be practised and improved. As you improve, you also increase your network, and your ability to influence.
What Carnegie was basically saying is being a great conversationalist is about being a good listener. The trick is to ask questions that people will enjoy answering and encouraging them to talk about themselves and their interests. Mastering this skill will help you build trust and stronger relationships in no time.
Carnegie also stressed great importance on remembering and frequently using the other person's name. He believed that a person's name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language to that person. Never underestimate the amount to which people value their own name. So next time you meet somebody new, make a special effort to remember their name, and of course, if you ever find yourself having to put their name in writing, be sure to use the correct spelling.
Another useful piece of advice from Carnegie's work is the guidance he offered on giving criticism. There is one sure way of upsetting other members of your team, and that is by telling somebody very directly that they are wrong. Telling somebody this and disregarding their opinion is a direct attack on their intelligence and pride. Their immediate response would be to strike back and argue their point. Instead, try asking a question, which will force them to think about a different point of view and challenge their own idea.
Being able to deliver criticism in a constructive way is a key skill for being a great team player. It's also worth looking at how well we take criticism. To be a good team player, you need to respect other people's opinions and not take criticism personally. Just understand that other people have a different perspective, and it's their weakness if they can't be constructive.
End transcript: Video 5
Video 5
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

When you work in an environment where colleagues trust each other and have positive relationships, the communication between them will be more honest and open and therefore more effective.

In a blog for Psychology Today, Russell (2016) lists a number of characteristics of a workplace where trust is in action. Many of them relate to communication, including:

  • Ideas are shared freely; contribution, collaboration, innovation, and cooperation thrive.
  • Victim thinking, finger-pointing, and negative storytelling are infrequent.
  • Regular feedback and dialogue is commonplace.
  • Healthy conflict, grounded with best-of-self behaviours like integrity, ethics, and big-team thinking prevails.
  • People like each other and show care and concern for one another, even volunteering to pitch in when others need assistance, without needing to be asked.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371