The importance of interpersonal relationships in the workplace

The human being is a social individual by nature, it is essential that he/she can develop in group environments where he/she interacts with others in order to grow personally, professionally and spiritually.

From there derives the importance of interpersonal relationships at work, an issue that is sometimes complex.

The importance of interpersonal relationships in the workplace
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What are interpersonal relationships?

It is a form of interaction between two or more people, who may have common interests. When we speak of this term, we refer to a link in which several individuals exchange emotions, feelings, activities, experiences or others.

At the socioanthropological level, interpersonal relationships are the basis of the society we know today, allowing individuals belonging to it to be linked in social, work, family, educational and other contexts.

In this sense, socioanthropology allows us to appreciate first-hand these interactions from different points of view, thanks to the need of human beings to relate to their environment and other individuals.

Interpersonal relationships require fluid communication between two or more individuals, so that they must share at least one medium for the formation of the bond.

This means that they must be able to communicate orally, in writing or otherwise, in order for such a relationship to exist.

This implies that it is almost impossible for two people who do not speak the same language or have some way of understanding each other to establish an interpersonal relationship.

Meeting with colleagues

Types of interpersonal relationships

Although it is generally possible to conceive of interpersonal relationships as bonds, it is usually much more complex than this, since according to the nature of the interaction it is essential to classify them into different types.

Affective interpersonal relationships

A couple hanging out together

It is an intimate and sentimental bond between two or more persons of the same or different sex, who seek to establish a deep affective relationship based on love, affection and trust, usually driven by physical attraction, pleasure, security and other aspects.

Superficial interpersonal relationships

Two angry business partners quarreling in offce on meeting.

It is a bond of “acquaintance” which means that it is a shallow relationship in which there is a formal interaction of kindness and education, which may or may not be positive.

They are usually transient and do not have great importance in the life of any of the parties involved, without affecting their emotions and feelings.

A clear example of these interpersonal relationships is the one formed between neighbors who greet each other in the hallways, but do not even know each other’s names; or the relationship with the mailman, who is treated with kindness.

They are usually of short duration and their experience does not generate a relevant impact on anyone’s life, although it can be transformed and become an interpersonal relationship of another type.

Circumstantial interpersonal relationships

Two female friends having fun together on the street. Multiethnic friends

It is an intermediate link between the superficial and the affectionate, in which it is possible to have not so relevant but positive or negative feelings towards other individuals and that can also be transformed or converted into another type of relationship.

As its name indicates, it is a bond propitiated by circumstance, in which physical proximity or aspects in common generate an interaction.

Within this type it is possible to contemplate interpersonal relationships at work, where colleagues socialize thanks to the work environment and the circumstances of the daily routine.

As mentioned above, this bond can become deep and affective or superficial and eventually disappear, depending mainly on the modification of circumstances.

Negative interpersonal relationships

Angry African American woman having fight with her collague at company office, copy space

Also called rivalries, they contemplate all the negative links that exist between individuals, usually known as enmity and generate deep emotions but nothing positive in people.

They usually arouse feelings such as hatred, contempt, anger, competitiveness and others that can be considered intimate or superficial depending on the circumstances.

Like other relationships, they can transform and evolve to another type, depending on how they develop, with the possibility of occurring in the family, work, education or other areas.

Family interpersonal relationships

Family Business

Based on the family circle, these are usually deep and sentimental relationships, positive or negative, between members who share a blood or kinship link.

They can also be superficial and depend on the time the individuals share and the quality of the relationship.

They are usually considered the most lasting, due to their nature and a clear example is parents and children.

Man sharing with colleagues

Examples of interpersonal relationships

Although we have been describing simple examples of interpersonal relationships, it is essential that you are clear about how this link is represented in society, for this we will mention some of the most common ones.

All these situations derive from a particular interpersonal relationship, since a friendship cannot exist with only one person, it requires at least two, and in the same way it happens with the others.

A key example is work, the links with the boss, superiors, employees, colleagues and even customers, are clear examples of interpersonal relationships of different types according to the particular case in question.

It is impossible for there to be a job that involves only one person, even if it is only one individual representing the company, there will always be at least two or more clients with whom he/she can relate.

The importance of interpersonal relationships in the workplace

The importance of interpersonal relationships at work lies in the fact that workers are people and therefore belong to a society, which is based on group bonds and interactions.

The saying “no person is an island” means that part of being considered a “person” is to participate in interpersonal relationships, otherwise you would be just an individual.

Healthy human development depends on positive interpersonal relationships and a large part of them can arise in those areas where most people work, such as at work.

Work is usually a daily activity and fostering interpersonal relationships at work is a way to be much more productive, happy and prosperous, since well-being in this aspect commonly contributes to feeling better in other areas of life.

Interpersonal relationships at work are fundamental and function as integration tools for personal and work success. 

In addition, relationships of this type allow us to form work groups, establish effective communications and comply with daily obligations to successfully achieve the goals set, when it comes to positive ties.

On the other hand, negative ones only generate nonconformity, rivalry, frustration, depression and eventually abandonment, situations that are neither desirable nor beneficial for any company.

Hairstylist colleagues talking with each other
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