One-on-Ones: Building Authentic Relationships

(Illustration) I was talking with my friend at work

I have been a one-on-one (1:1) practitioner since 2020. Back then, I took on the official role of Tech Lead for the first time, working directly with two teams (8 members).

The original idea was simple. I scheduled a one-hour meeting with each member per quarter. In the meeting, I tried to be a good listener. I looked for things that I could do to support my members in improving their jobs. Recently, I discovered that I can conduct this meeting at any time. Deep and honest sharing is what I’ve learned to be necessary for a meaningful talk.

Building authentic relationships

Last month, I read Norwegian Wood, a mind-blowing novel about human psychology. I was so obsessed with the idea of the book. As I recall, the main characters only talk their truths in a mental hospital. I didn’t think people normally show their egos that way.

It might be the motivator to push me to have a heart-to-heart talk with my good friend, with whom I have not spoken in the last three months. We felt like we liked each other, but there was always a wall preventing us from understanding each other well. I was afraid to hurt my friend, and my friend felt frustrated talking with me.

I was trying to listen to my friend without giving too many of my opinions. Honesty drove the talk. It worked. I followed up with three other appointments every Monday. I saw my friend as more than just a friend. My friend became my mental advisor.


I recognized that my envy was the root cause of my stress at work. I tried to conduct 1:1s with some colleagues who work directly with me. I worked with one of them for more than 5 years, but this was the first time we had a meaningful 1:1. I was so relieved that people did not judge me, but empathized when I shared my private matters, especially my envy. I did not feel as embarrassed as I thought.

So people, do not underrate one-on-ones, they truly help the relationship. More importantly, they help you to understand more about yourself. In the process of these one-on-ones, I discovered that letting go of my assumptions and listening was the key to understanding. It’s a journey of self-discovery and a path to fostering stronger, more authentic relationships.

By Huong Nguyen

I am a full-stack software engineer. I have working experience with Java, Node.js, Angular, PostgreSQL, Jenkins, and OpenShift. I enjoy spending time with my son and wife on weekends. I am also a book lover. All posts and content I share solely represent my own views and do not represent the views of my employer.

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