10 Strategies for Year-End Professional Relationship Building: It’s the Little Things that Count!

What might you regret doing or not doing this season if you defer once again? Who are some of the people with whom you’d like to reconnect, either in the workplace or elsewhere? What happiness can you bring to your year-end December days, as well as to the experience of others, both colleagues and clients or customers, alike?

These last few weeks at work before the Christmas break can be taxing or terrific, depending on the seasonal demands of your job and within your organization. They can also wear on your career/professional relationships. For some, this is the slow season; for others, it’s panic time extraordinaire! Regardless, it’s that time of year again–a terrific time for taking career relationship-building action!

Declare December a time for consciously nurturing and building your professional relationships. Apply any or all of these ten strategies to deliver you (and your team and/or colleagues elsewhere) to a happy year’s end:

1. Under promise and over deliver: There’s often a psychological hurdle to “get this and that out of the way” before the 24th. Cut yourself some slack (to keep your sanity and some semblance of good cheer) by, as much as possible and reasonable, “under promising and over delivering.” It’s amazing how this approach elevates one’s credibility and reputation. If you think you can get it done in one day, say two to be sure, and then do your best to deliver it in one.

2. Nurture a couple of special workplace friendships: You spend more time at work than at home, so it seems. Isn’t it nice to have at least one “safe” person at work with whom to talk about the good, the bad and the down right workplace “ugly?” One who really understands your workplace’s ups and downs? Who are your “safe” colleagues? We all need at least one. Take a moment to stop by and say an earnest and heartfelt “thanks.”

3. Reserve judgment of another: Just because you “heard it through the grapevine” doesn’t make it so. Check things out for yourself. Stick up for that absent person when the office rumour mill starts grinding. Declare your ears a “no rumour/no gossip zone” for the remaining days of December (and, if this starts to feel good to you, perhaps you may choose to extend this declaration into the new year!).

4. Share your thoughts of admiration with that person you admire: Make a list of colleagues whose work and style you’ve always admired… and then tell them. And tell them why. Make these last of December days your “mushy” excuse for sharing what’s in your heart, and rarely said, during the other 11 months of the year.

5. Patch things up: What office relationship, between you and another, is mildly or seriously fractured? After all this time, does it matter who was at fault? Use the excuse of this season to do what you can to mend your fences.

6. If you can’t be in the job you’d love, honey, love the job you’re in: Act as if you have the best job in the whole world, and love coming to work each and every day. Make sure that it “shows” to staff, colleagues and clients, alike. If you already really do feel this way, this suggestion is easy for you. If not, adopt the old “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. Over time, perhaps you actually will deliver yourself to this self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember, the Zen philosophy espouses “What you think about expands.”

7. Set two new professional development goals for 2015: Decide now, on two professional development goals for the New Year. Seriously contemplate your career path. If you want professional growth, start looking within your own organization, first, as you’ve invested a lot of time in them and they in you. What secondments can you pursue in your own branch or division? another branch or division? For what workplace projects can you volunteer? What newly created position can you propose for yourself?

8. Train your brain to engage three seconds faster than your mouth: Do your part to increase peace on your team, between your colleagues, and with your clients and customers by (metaphorically) biting your tongue over petty disagreements. Before you “go there” with a nasty retort or sarcastic passive aggressive comment, ask yourself “Is this a preference or a value?” Conserve your energy to fight for your values. Let go of at least some of your preferences this season… for extra peace all around. This strategy will save much of your daily professional energy for things that really matter to you and your career, and will increase team harmony too!

9. Accept a little more: Are you an “unaccepting intolerant?” Is it always “My way or the highway” with you? Even if you don’t think so, might others believe this of your communications style? Be honest with yourself. Don’t judge colleagues or staff (or even old clients, for that matter), today, by what you knew about them “back then.” People do sometimes change and evolve, don’t they? You have, over the years, haven’t you? Think back to the way you were in the workplace ten or twelve years ago. Have you developed greater wisdom from your years of experience? Does that wisdom show up in how you now deal with your day-to-day professional relationships and challenges? Probably. And so it is with others perhaps, too.

10. Consciously smile when picking up the phone: For the rest of the year warm things up with your smiling phone greetings. Change both your live and recorded telephone greeting words/script for the balance of this month. Callers will hear the smile in your voice, and it will get each and every one of your connections off to a warmer start. If you’re doing it right, in most cases you will notice a responsive difference. People do notice and often, then, either consciously or unconsciously, respond in kind.

December is a wonderful time for taking action, having no regrets, and making peace with yourself and others, colleagues and clients alike. Enjoy your workdays, come what may; it’s all good. Belly-laugh a lot. We all can use it, wouldn’t you agree?

Whether at this time of year you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, or merely the Winter Solstice, take time to pause, celebrate and count your blessings for what lovely business/professional relationships you already enjoy and make a conscious decision to work on taking those relationships to the next level.

Sending you my sincere and warmest wishes for this happy, relationship-building, festive season and into 2015!

Nina Spencer is a Canadian Keynote Speaker, Author of the Bestseller, Getting Passion Out of Your Profession, and new book, A Time to Creep, A Time to Soar: Lessons learned from climbing Kilimanjaro. She is also a recurring “Communication Guru ” for Biz TV Canada and radio personality on Bell Media’s 1150 CKOC AM every Monday morning at 8:47 EST offering “Motivational Moments.” Contact Nina to book her keynote services, or to seek permission to reprint this article, via email: nina@ninaspencer.com, or by calling directly at 416.588.3334. Nina’s books are available for purchase online.

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