Collaboration is the cornerstone of human progress. It’s no secret that Personal Connection® allows us to do more together than we ever could alone. And while work has changed over thousands of years of human history, the necessity of cooperation never has.
But some of our relationships are stronger than others. In the workplace, you must navigate a fine line between being a leader and being a friend. If you walk on the authoritative side of things, you could foster transactional relationships that negatively affect every facet of the modern workplace.
But what are transactional relationships, and how can you avoid them? At VP Legacies, our Personal Connection® experts are committed to helping your workplace encourage friendliness and engagement. Let’s dive deep into this question that has haunted countless executives and employees alike.
What Is a Transactional Relationship, Anyway?
The name is a bit of a giveaway. Transactional relationships are all about transactions, mainly business ones. It makes sense for a boss or a coworker to keep their eyes on the prize and employees focused on the task at hand.
But if that’s all you ever discuss, you may be guilty of maintaining hollow transactional relationships. This can also extend beyond employees. In the service industry, you might also push customers towards a sale with little personal conversation, if any.
But isn’t that what being at work is all about? Not exactly.
Why Transactional Relationships Hurt You in the Long Run
A workplace built on trust and mutual respect can pay off in more ways than one. Connected employees are happy employees. They’ll be more likely to stay at your company for longer, and they’ll enthusiastically help out their friends to generate ideas or complete challenging tasks.
Personal Connection® encourages employees to take their work more seriously. Compare this to detached employees who may view the job as little more than a paycheck.
According to one survey, three-fourths of employees view their bosses in a negative light. And when most supervisors do little more than bark orders, it’s no wonder why.
Beyond lost productivity and motivation, transactional relationships don’t seek out personal preferences. And yet it’s these preferences and desires that allow bosses to create a tailored workplace. When employees don’t feel they are using their strengths or gaining relevant experience, they’re much more likely to quit their jobs.
Real relationships give bosses the opportunity to discover what makes these individuals click. By creating a workplace environment where employees can engage with managers, colleagues, and people in different departments, you can retain key employees.
Related: Why Empathy in the Workplace Matters
Strategies for Avoiding Transactional Relationships
You can learn how to avoid transactional relationships even if you’ve been creating them for decades. It doesn’t take much to make the switch to healthier interpersonal connections. While your employees may be skeptical at first, they’ll come around in time.
Cultivate authentic workplace relationships with these simple tips.
1. Consider Your Intentions
Before you reach out to anyone in the workplace, allow yourself a pensive moment. Why are you reaching out? What is your intent?
If you find you’re trying to get something from a worker, that is a transactional relationship. Conversely, relational intent seeks to add value to both parties.
Get in the right frame of mind and be open to a genuine Personal Connection®. It may seem superficial, but people can tell when you’re being authentic… or just trying to meet a quota.
2. Be Positive
Positive emotions are the backbone of all healthy relationships, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. Avoid conversations that dwell on a shared hatred about something.
Instead, reach out with optimism and discuss happy topics. For example, do you know what your employees do for fun after work? Not only can you learn about your fellow workers, but you can share a few smiles, too.
Who knows? You may have more in common than you first thought.
3. Don’t Label People
Negative thoughts come easier than positive ones. We’re wired that way. And for that reason, you may subconsciously assign negative qualifiers to others.
These labels prevent the formation of candid relationships. After all, how can you express genuine interest in a conversation when you may feel the listener is a tad slow or technologically illiterate?
Put these labels to bed. A single negative trait does not a person make.
4. Be Open-Minded and Vulnerable
You can’t share personal details with everyone. It’s risky, dangerous, and sometimes painful in a very physical sense.
Yet given the right situation, you can share a concern you have or a challenge you had to overcome to signal to the listener that you feel comfortable divulging this information to them. This practice cultivates earnest two-way relationships and real Personal Connection®.
But you have to listen, too. When an employee discusses something deeply personal, always stay open-minded and avoid judgment.
Related: What is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership?
5. Don’t Just Communicate When You Need Something
You’ll frequently need to touch base with other employees and make sure critical work gets done. But that should never be the only reason you communicate in the workplace.
When you find time in your schedule, take a walk around the office. Small talk isn’t the most exciting conversation material, but making an effort to gab about nonwork-related topics can go a long way in showing you care.
6. Take Your Time
In the age of social media, everyone struggles with real, tangible connections. And you can’t flip a switch and pretend you want an authentic relationship. People are quick to pick up on deception.
To avoid transactional relationships, it’s going to take some time. After all, you’re rewiring the way your brain works.
Keep at it. With enough patience, you’ll get the hang of things for the better.
Creating a Positive Workplace
You have the power to influence company culture and employee morale. It’s time to kick transactional relationships to the curb. In addition to feeling more engaged with the people around you, you help create a workplace environment that makes everyone happy.
Looking for more ways to deeply connect with those inside and outside the workplace? Try our Personal Connection® course to learn more about building lasting relationships. You’ll learn ways to turn small talk into longer conversations, and those longer conversations into real connections. With our insight, you’ll be able to say goodbye to transactional relationships.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy