Are you getting the best from your work relationships?


We spend 8 hours a day (usually more) with our work colleagues where challenges, obstacles, rewards, friendships and collaboration are shared and contribute to the quality of our work relationships.


Each of these activities asks something different from us, providing us an opportunity to actively demonstrate our values and shine our best self at work.


As result driven individuals, we want to contribute to the whole of the organisation. When things start turning pear shaped, conversations and focus quickly turn to which results will be impacted and relationships can be tested.


Over the past few weeks, I have been unpacking the lesson of ‘relationship vs results’ through my natural horsemanship.


I was struggling with a particular exercise – leading my horse over a small, raised bridge.  It sounds easy enough – have a relationship with your horse, hold a clear intention to cross the bridge, lead him with calm confidence to the bridge, get his feet placed at the edge and continue to lead him over.


Here’s the trick – the exercise is not actually about crossing the bridge.

It’s about having the relationship to move his feet where you want them and him listening to you.


Time and time again, the last part of leading him over the bridge didn’t happen. After nearly an hour of trying different ways, changing the activity up with other games – I was hot, tired, frustrated and unsure what to do next.


I was disappointed that I didn’t get it right the first time (or second, or third or any of them!) when my instructor shared her sage advice.


“Remember it’s about the relationship not the result. If you get him over the bridge and there’s no relationship – what have you actually achieved?”


Whilst I understand the everyday commercial world is about driving and delivering strategy, tactics and ultimately results – this exercise helped me see through a different perspective how we can be so results orientated, caught in up the day-to-day BAU, WIPs etc that ‘relationships’ can be taken for granted or assumed vs being consciously worked on as part of gaining a result.


Balancing relationships and results in theory is easy – practically speaking it’s a different story.

If you play too nice, your team may not take you seriously.

If you push too hard, you burn them (or yourself) out.


We have our own beliefs, perceptions, judgements and mindset to navigate – and each time another person enters the room it adds another layer with their beliefs, judgements, perceptions.


Whilst company culture and workplace ‘rules’ (both spoken and unspoken) may be known and accepted – when the pressure is on – it’s a natural biological response for our lizard brain to kick in. It takes conscious and disciplined awareness to manage our chattering mind whilst staying present with shifting dynamics and personal interactions in the room.


Try the exercise below to bring conscious awareness how your body views the quality of the relationship vs your thinking mind which tends to default to “deliver results”


Draw a column for “Results” and another column for “Relationship”.

Consider different aspects that impact us at work:

  • Career(path)
  • Workplace
  • Sense of fulfilment
  • Sense of personal wellbeing
  • Your colleagues
  • Intellectual challenges
  • Sense of purpose
  • Yourself
  • Feel free to add others that resonate for you

Rate your energy on a scale of 1-5 in each column as you consider these aspects, firstly from a Result and then a Relationship perspective.


Take a moment to reflect – where is there synergy between relationship and results? Which aspects rate higher in relationship or lower – and is that how you want to be showing up for yourself at work?

What aspect do you feel you can control to change or maintain? What is the one action you can take today to put that into action?


Going back to my horse and the bridge – we still haven’t crossed it.


I’ve ended the last session with him soft in my hand and he’s taught me more about flexibility, considering alternatives and the result I truly want to gain. For me – it’s about the relationship with him and the bridge will come in time.


I’d love to hear what this opened up for you and where you may reframe your results vs relationship thinking below.




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