Ben Holliday


The relationships we build with people at work

I’ve been thinking about how we build relationships.

This is the most important thing most of us do at work. It’s how things get done. How tensions are resolved. How decisions get made.

It’s all about currency.

Currency is the value of the relationships we build with other people

You have to earn trust. This is the right to have your ideas, opinions, and the way you see the world taken seriously.

Most of the time you have to work hard to build currency with other people. This is never popularity. It’s a bond.

Nothing gives you the right to be heard. Nothing makes your ideas, your way of working, more important than anybody else’s.

Anyone can have an opinion, but you’ve got to earn people’s attention. It takes hard work, and an investment of time and energy to get people to listen.

Any currency worth having takes time to earn

You have to keep building your credit. It’s easy to spend, but hard to save.

There are no shortcuts. You need to be careful with other people’s opinions, or building on other people’s investments. Most people will see straight through that.

You can tell when someone is deeply rooted in their ideas. They’ve saved and invested until they’ve earned the right to bring them into the room. It’s a long game, but you earn your credibility in any work situation.

It’s exhausting, but currency is what keeps your ideas alive.

The risk of currency losing its value

You have to use your currency. It’s only valuable if you’re willing to spend what you have. People move on, businesses and organisations change.

If you hold onto currency for too long, opportunities are lost and the time and energy you’ve invested in people will be wasted.

The exception of currency

A few people don’t have to earn their currency. But most people at work are not in charge.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably most people.

Learning to become invested

Make sure you have enough currency.

Be invested in the problems you’re solving, but most of all, be invested in the people around you.

Building currency is all about relationships. It’s smart to invest your time with different, more diverse groups of people.

Make sure you make the most of the relationships you have. What if you’re only as good at what you do as the people that surround you?

Work hard to save, and most of all, be willing to spend before you have to start all over again.

This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 18 years. You can follow all of my posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also find me on Bluesky, less frequently now on X (formally Twitter), and on LinkedIn.