Acquiring, building, and maintaining solid relationships with clients and customers is arguably the first priority of a sales professional’s job. After all, without those relationships, there is no job. So we go into the office and set our minds to the task of keeping those relationships in tip-top shape. We might hear a coworker who always seems so pleasant and agreeable say something that sounds a bit strange, but don’t think twice about it.
We witness little things with our other coworkers too—like a look, a roll of the eyes, a gesture behind someone’s back, or one coworker whispering to another coworker—but don’t think much about it until we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a workplace drama we did not see coming.
Building relationships with coworkers is not like building a relationship with a client or customer. To varying degrees, we have a choice about who we want our sales clients to be. We rarely have a choice about our coworkers. And while it might not be fair to say that we should always be aware of what our coworkers are up to, it would be naive to believe that their actions in the workplace are designed to build anyone’s career other than their own.
If you don’t want to inadvertently get caught up in office drama—or worse, be the source of it—use some of the same strategies you’d use when you’re getting to know a client better. In the workplace, that means paying attention to the clues your coworkers are giving you.
Gossip - A coworker might ask you a question about yourself, or someone else in the office, that seems innocent enough to answer. BUT, what will they do with your answer? Will it come back to bite you on the #%&? Stick to the facts, and take care with the jokes or information you might be tempted to share about others.
Superficial Sincerity - People in the workplace can become very good at hiding their insecurities behind a facade of sincerity. It would be nice if all of our coworkers felt confident, comfortable and secure in their jobs. BUT they don’t. Don’t expect a coworker to jump on the sword perched in the middle of the room even if it does have their name on it.
Trust – This is one of the most important aspects of any relationship, BUT it’s hard to build trust in an environment of casual “work” relationships. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust the people you work with. It just means that if you witness a coworker doing or saying something behind someone else’s back, chances are extremely good they’ll do the same behind your back too.
None of this is a suggestion to look for trouble where there isn’t any. It’s just a reminder that the same ability you use to build relationships with your clients can be used to help you safely navigate through office politics with your coworkers. All either situation requires is your attention.
Alan Luoma: I am a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new
product development, sales and product training. I work part time with a great national sustainable packaging company and their exceptional distributors to increase sales. My success has been and is in utilizing the Pareto 80/20 principal in business and life. I have become an expert in seeking out and eliminating behaviors that prevent business people from being successful. I am a member of The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view my profile on LinkedIn, or contact me at Luoma@snet.net