The devil is in the details. While it’s important to focus on the big ticket items, small, everyday interactions added together can make or break a professional relationship. Here are some things you might be doing without thinking.
Forgetting (or never learning) personal details
When someone tells you their name, commit it to memory and use it in your next conversation. Make a note of your colleagues’ children and their names and ages. Wish your colleagues a happy birthday, and if they tell you they have something important coming up in their lives, remember that and ask about it later. Failure to do these things will keep your relationship at a purely business level, which won’t provide the rapport you need when you and your colleague need to overcome the inevitable misunderstanding.
Ignoring a non-urgent request
When a colleague sends you an email, make a habit of responding within 24 hours. Even if the message isn’t a priority for you, it may be for them. Don’t be one of those people who is “bad about email.” While you may not mean any harm, this will eventually result in a loss of trust and respect as well as a vicious cycle of inattention (i.e. you ignore me, I ignore you back).
Forcing other people to ask you about status
Do your boss and colleagues have to track you down in person or nag you repeatedly about the projects you own? Even if your results are stellar and everything turns out fine in the end, giving your colleagues a few extra gray hairs wondering what the bleep is going on will not do much for your work relationships. Instead, be proactive about providing status in the manner in which your colleagues would like to receive it.
Doing something else while having a conversation
Multi-tasking is a fact of life in the twenty-first century. But people who can’t pry their eyes away from their smartphones for five minutes to have a meaningful interaction with another human will also not be able to count on the benefits of valuable relationships. Make sure you are both physically and mentally present when a colleague comes into your office.
Written by PeopleResults partner Alexandra Levit.