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Human beings are social creatures. We like to spend time with and do things for people we like.  We tend to distance ourselves from people who are “different”.  However, in the workplace we do not generally have the luxury of choosing the people with whom we work. That means that sometimes we have to develop a relationship with someone we don’t like for whatever reason: personality, different opinions, different thinking style, or they just look weird to us.

 

So many people have said to me: How do I build relationships?  This always seems like such a strange question, but it really is challenging for some of my more technically oriented colleagues.  I usually suggest taking some time to get to know the other person, which could mean talking about their kids, talking about politics, or talking about the latest, greatest project in the organization.  As far as I know, there is not a cookbook technique that ensures that you will be bosom buddies in ten minutes or less.

 

The follow-up comment to this answer is usually something like: But that takes so much time. Sometimes to be present and to give your full attention to another human being does take time.  So, you can invest the time now, or you can lose it later when your project gets delayed by this same person who is stalling for some unknown reason.

 

Again, we like to do things for people when we know them; when we know their values, motives, reactions, and desires.  After all, we are usually much more comfortable with the known versus the unknown.

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