How to Use Relationships to Build Your Career Success

I’ve been getting a lot of career success questions about relationships lately – specifically how to build the strong, lasting relationships that will help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

Relationships are an important key to creating the life and career success you want and deserve. None of us can do it alone. We all need other people if we are going to succeed in our careers. I devote 20 tweets in my career advice book Success Tweets to them.

It’s difficult — if not impossible – to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life if you don’t display a genuine interest in others. Show others that you care about them as people. Do small things like remembering the name of their spouse and children, asking about their family, learning about their interests outside of work. You don’t have to become best friends with everybody at work, but it helps tremendously if you take the time to know them as whole people, not just work colleagues.

For years, I’ve made it a habit to remember other people’s birthdays and send them an ecard. It’s easy to do. I use Plaxo. They even send me birthday reminders a week before. It’s a small thing – and one which is hardly ever reciprocated – but people are always pleased when I remember their birthdays. Remembering people’s birthdays is just one small way that you can follow the career advice in Success Tweet 121 – get genuinely interested in others.

Success Tweet 122 has more good advice on relationships. “Keep confidences and avoid gossip. Don’t embarrass others by repeating what they share with you – even if it isn’t in confidence.”

A couple of years ago I received a press release from Randstad USA that I saved. The press release focused on a study they did that identified the Top 7 Pet Peeves in the Workplace. Here they are, with the percentage of people who identified each pet peeve.

  1. Gossip – 60%
  2. Other’s poor time management skills – 54%
  3. Messiness in communal spaces – 45%
  4. Potent scents – 42%
  5. Loud noises – 41%
  6. Overuse of electronic personal communication devices in meetings – 28%
  7. Misuse of email — 22%

Why should you care? Because all of these pet peeves are things to avoid if you are going to build strong relationship and create the life and career success you want and deserve.

Let’s focus on gossip. Gary Ryan Blair, The Goals Guy is a friend of mine. He has a special report out called Gossip, Rumors and Innuendo: Understanding Gossip and How to Control It! You can purchase it by going to Click on “Store”, then “Special Reports”.

Gary likens gossip to workplace violence.

“To many people, the idea of “workplace violence” connotes the physical harm that one may do to another. However, there is another form of workplace violence that is just as dangerous and insidious, and this is workplace gossip, rumors, and innuendo. While your first inclination may be to consider the way we talk as not being violent , the fact remains, our words in the context of gossip, rumors, and innuendo often lead to hurt, pain and suffering.”

He’s right. I know there’s an old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This is something that mothers tell their children to help them deal with the inconsiderate things kids say to one another. Unfortunately, it’s not true.

Gossip can have a very debilitating effect on another person. Interpersonally competent people just don’t do it. People with positive personal impact just don’t do it. Gossip serves no good purpose, other than to hurt the person who is the subject.

The book, As A Gentleman Would Say, offers some great career advice about gossip.

“When a gentleman is asked to substantiate a rumor… He does not say: ‘Let me put it this way: I’m not going to say yes, I’m not going to say no.’ ‘I think I know the truth, but I better not say it.’ ‘Don’t you have any better way to waste your time?’

“But he does say: ‘I don’t know the truth about that, so I’d prefer not to say anything’.’

Breaking confidences is another way to kill workplace relationships. I always suggest to my career success coach clients to avoid revealing anything said to them – even if the person who says it doesn’t ask you to hold his or her remarks in confidence.

When I was a young guy, I had two mentors: my boss, the VP of HR, and the VP of Marketing at the company where I worked. I liked and respected each of them. And I wanted them to like and respect one another. One day, my boss mentioned that she found the VP of Marketing to be somewhat aloof and difficult to get to know.

This bothered me, so in a conversation with the VP of Marketing, I mentioned that my boss found him a little aloof and hard to get to know. I wanted the two of them to like each other. And, I thought that together they could really do some great things for the company. Boy, was that a mistake!

The VP of Marketing called the VP of HR (my boss) and complained that she was talking behind his back, and that if she had a problem with him, he wished that she would take it up with him. As soon as she got off the phone, my boss called me into my office and proceeded to let me know in no uncertain terms that she didn’t appreciate me violating her confidence.

I was shocked. To begin with, I was surprised that she thought of her comment about the VP of Marketing as confidential. Second, I was surprised that he was upset enough to call her to complain.

I apologized to my boss. She then said something that I remember exactly to this day. “That’s OK you made a mistake. Everybody is entitled to make a mistake now and then. But trust me on this, you’ll never make the same mistake three times. I expect you to learn from it the first time. If you make the same mistake two times, there will be no third time because you’ll be gone.”

That’s how I learned how to keep confidences, even if I thought they weren’t told to me in confidence. The best career advice I can give you on this is to never do or say anything that will embarrass your boss, your colleagues, or other people in your company. Stay silent.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Follow the advice in Tweets 121 and 122 in Success Tweets. “Get genuinely interested in others. Help bring out the best in everyone you know.” (121) “Keep confidences and avoid gossip. Don’t embarrass others by repeating what they share with you – even if it isn’t in confidence.” (122) Gossip not only hurts other people, it makes you smaller. People with positive personal impact don’t gossip. The old saying, “Extraordinary people talk about ideas, average people talk about events, and little people talk about other people,” is true. Be an extraordinary person. Don’t gossip or share things told to you in confidence. Treat most things that aren’t common knowledge in your company as being told to you in confidence. Bring out the best in everybody you know.

That’s my career advice on building strong relationships. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. And, as always, thanks for taking the time to read my daily thoughts on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb? It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations. You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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