I typically write blogs with information to help you bring your “A” game to work. This week I feel compelled to speak from the heart.

My mother recently passed away after a long illness. Even when you know death is coming, it’s still a shock.

As my family and I made funeral arrangements and experienced the grieving process, I was struck by the number of co-workers who reached out to ask how I was doing or how they could help. A few even picked up the slack and completed work on my behalf.

So, as I sit at my cubicle today still mourning from time to time, I am surrounded by people with whom I can proudly say I have healthy relationships.

Healthy workplace relationships are best characterized by mutual trust and respect. You must be able to trust your colleagues and treat everyone with dignity and respect. In addition, you must embrace diversity—not only diversity on the outside, but also diversity of thought and work style.

The workplace shouldn’t be a cookie cutout of one type of person but rather a tossed salad—of talent, personality and ability. Workers who have developed healthy relationships also know how to communicate effectively with one another. They are effective listeners and accountable for what they say and do.

The benefits of healthy work relationships are many and range from increased productivity to higher morale to increased attendance. It just feels better to come to work when you like and respect your colleagues.

So how do you get there? How do you nurture healthy relationships in the workplace?

Start by reaching out and starting a conversation. We have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk. Find out something you have in common and go from there. Once you’ve established a relationship, nurture it. Show appreciation by telling others “job well done.”

A word of warning: Also develop your emotional intelligence. Know where boundaries lie and don’t overstep them. There are some people who don’t want work relationships; they just want to do their jobs. Respect that and move on.

It didn’t take a death in my family for me to know I work with some very cool people, but I did get to see it in action—both in and out of the workplace.

Look around your cube and see if you have healthy relationships. If the answer is no, you have some work to do. I encourage you to reach out. You’re likely to find it well worth the effort.