Posted: 04 Mar. 2022 10 min. read

Spring cleaning your relationships

Spring has officially sprung in the Northern Hemisphere bringing with it the spirit of clearing out the old, freshening things up, and planting new seeds. After two years of pandemic living, perhaps there is more than just a messy closet to clean out or a garden bed to plant. You might also consider taking a fresh look at your professional relationships—especially since those with whom we interact in the context of work can profoundly impact our productivity, well-being, career growth, and overall satisfaction. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, here are a few tips on sprucing up your professional relationships.

Dust it off

Sometimes it feels like the longer you are in a relationship, the easier it is to get caught up in the same old habits. Perhaps we put off calls to touch base or we fail to reach out on a regular basis for more than just work-related items. The real magic in professional relationships can come when connection is mutually beneficial. Wharton professor and researcher Adam Grant wrote about the power of “collective effervescence”—that almost out-of-body feeling you experience when you are in synchrony with someone else. If we find ways to keep things fresh and intentional, connections can add meaning to our work and can foster more opportunities to achieve that feeling. Get creative with your connection points. For example, research shows that music can help synchronize our bodies and our brains by impacting our neurochemicals. So, try playing music at the beginning of a call and see if you can find common ground in musical tastes. Whether we find ourselves chatting with someone that could help propel our career, mentoring someone new to the team, or sharing stories with a lifelong colleague, relationships can shape our work/life holistically.

Plant new seeds

Even if you have well-established work relationships, adding new ones can be highly beneficial. As Yale professor and organizational behavior researcher Marissa King noted in her book, Social Chemistry, “Just as your emotional, social, and work needs change over time, so can your network.” Take time to reflect on what your professional relationship values and needs are, and then plan accordingly. Connecting with a colleague you have not previously can give you a fresh perspective, open the door for new opportunities, and perhaps introduce you to a new network of people. In this season of new beginnings, be open to adding someone new into your work tribe. A great tip: Learn what their Business Chemistry type is. This can help you understand how they prefer to interact and like to work—all of which can help you get started in building meaningful connections.

Let go of what no longer serves

How many of us have held onto something long past the time it serves us or provides value? Maybe clothing items you haven’t worn in years, or a relationship that doesn’t bring anything to the table? Tidying consultant Marie Kondo recommends evaluating each relationship and your role in it as a key step in determining how to proceed when a relationship no longer sparks joy. In the case of professional relationships, it is more about using your time wisely. Prioritize the relationships that add value to your life and meaning to your work. Focus on the relationships that are an opportunity for you to help someone else. Using your time intentionally to grow relationships can be a game changer—for both you and your connections.

Taking some time to reflect on your relationships can be a great way to start fresh this spring. While you’re at it, consider creating a new routine to help you be more intentional about your relationship-building habits. Start small—something that can be done in five minutes, for example—and grow from there. You might be surprised at how refreshing a little relationship spring cleaning can be.


Carrie Rodriguez
Manager, Greenhouse Innovation
Deloitte LLP

Jennifer Wotczak
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP

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Suzanne Vickberg (aka Dr. Suz)

Suzanne Vickberg (aka Dr. Suz)

Research Lead | Deloitte Greenhouse®

Dr. Suz is a social-personality psychologist and a leading practitioner of Deloitte’s Business Chemistry, which Deloitte uses to guide clients as they explore how their work is shaped by the mix of individuals who make up a team. Previously serving in Deloitte’s Talent organization, since 2014 she’s been coaching leaders and teams in creating cultures that enable each member to thrive and make their best contribution. Along with her Deloitte Greenhouse colleague Kim Christfort, Suzanne co-authored the book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships as well as a Harvard Business Review cover feature on the same topic. She also leads the Deloitte Greenhouse research program focused on Business Chemistry and is the primary author of the Business Chemistry blog. An “unapologetic introvert” and Business Chemistry Guardian-Dreamer, you will never-the-less often find her in front of a room, a camera, or a podcast microphone speaking about Business Chemistry or Suzanne and Kim’s second book, The Breakthrough Manifesto: Ten Principles to Spark Transformative Innovation, which digs deep into methodologies and mindsets to help obliterate barriers to change and ignite a whole new level of creative problem-solving. Suzanne is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a doctorate in Social-Personality Psychology from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is also a professional coach, certified by the International Coaching Federation. She has lectured at Rutgers Business School and several colleges in the CUNY system, and before joining Deloitte in 2009, she gained experience in the health care and consulting fields. A mom of two teenagers, she maintains her native Minnesota roots and currently resides in New Jersey, where she volunteers for several local organizations with a focus on hunger relief.