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Cultivating Meaningful Connections

Thoughts On Relationship Building

If you're serious about developing and advancing your career, you have to be able to build relationships. You have to have conversations with your coworkers. You don't need to love the people you work with, but you do need to respect them and have them respect you. You need to show empathy and compassion and be able to receive it. You should be able to trust people, although not necessarily everybody. And no matter how strong your relationships at every level, you still need to perform your tail off. You will still have to prove yourself...everyday.

Still, there's a limit to what relationships can accomplish and how long and hard you should work at creating and leveraging connections at a company. If your stomach turns over twice going in the front door, maybe you don't need to be there. If you're sitting in your office feeling angry, isolated, and bitter and thinking that you'll succeed, think twice. If you don't respect the people and their values and belief systems or if you just don't like them, you don't need to be there. If you don't see yourself advancing, developing, growing, or flourishing, you don't need to be there.

On the other hand, you do have to look for the light in the darkness. Seek out those people who are going to give you the support, nurturing, and feedback to help you be successful. They are there; but you have to seek them out. Look for the lights in the darkness. Who's educable? Whom can you bring over to your side?

As you make these meaningful connections, it's important not to be exploitive and manipulative. That mentality doesn't serve well. Remember, relationships follow you from company to company. You might not work with the same people, but the connections you make add up to a powerful learning and support network for you. Make sure these are renewable relationships.

An excerpt from Career GPS: Strategies For Women Navigating The New Corporate Landscape by Ella L.J. Edmondson Bell with Linda Villarosa

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