Addressing Workplace Relationships

Where do we get to choose our relationships and where do we have no choice? We get to choose our friends, but not our family or co-workers. Figure that the workplace is one area where a group of random people are plunked down in some sort of space and told to work with one another. Of course there are criteria as to why managers and supervisors pick their candidates. Do you think one of them is how they’ll get along with others? Maybe…maybe not. My guess is that they first look for the most qualified and willing person for the job.

I say willing because some job openings have either been open for quite a while or have had multiple times when a certain position is open. That’s what happened to me many years ago. And the problem was that I didn’t ask enough questions about the position, such as: How many people have held this job in the past seven or so years? Who asks that kind of question? You do if you want to know the history of the job and the potential, if any, issues there were with others who took that position. Some places are just notorious for turnover. Your interviewer is not going to give you the scoop on who has been there causing problems, but you might want to know who you would be working with and following up with. If the person you need to rely on for your job to go smoothly…you want to meet them and ask them questions.

Which brings me to asking you what patterns are you aware of when it comes to your workplace behavior? I ask that because as in all social cultures we tend to be a certain person when it comes to our “way of being.” You may want to ask yourself these questions when it comes to your patterns of behavior “at the office.”

1) How do I react to difficult workplace situations?
Do I want to run and hide, divert attention away from the problem or look to solve it in an aggressive manner?
2) Do I apologize again and again even if I know you are right?
3) Have I repeatedly been disappointed when I’ve worked hard and gotten little or no thanks or feedback?
4) Are you afraid to tell your supervisor the truth of what’s going on or how you feel?

If so you may be sabotaging yourself by being unconscious of your own behavioral patterns. This is standard for most of us humans. In one or more important areas of our lives especially when it comes to relationships of any kind we are not conscious of how we react or if we are we feel trapped as to what to do about it. And the problem with those things is that if you go to another position just to get away from certain types of people, you’re going to carry that baggage with you to the job. So…how do we change?

As human beings we all need validation or we don’t thrive. If your boss doesn’t provide that you need to ask for it. That might seem like a tall order so as a life coach I ask my clients to start with something smaller. Perhaps be assertive with someone who isn’t so scary. Ask for something from another person who won’t be a total pushover but will provide a little challenge for you and work your way up to your boss.
If, on the other hand you’re having a hard time with a co-worker. If you rely on another to finish a task you started or to follow up with customers and they typically don’t that also reflects on you. What to do? I suggest going to the source. Go to your co-worker. Use the “Sandwich Strategy.” First tell them something good about them ( the 1st outer layer of the sandwich). For example, I realize you have a lot of people to follow up with and you do a good job, however, Mr. & Mrs. ______ needs an answer to their question before tomorrow. If you’re too swamped to do it, would you like me to take it to __________(supervisor) and have her/him follow up with them? (Wait for their answer and you’ll know how they feel. Let it be known that you are making sure that someone gets in touch with these people. And finally, if they agree to follow up thank them and point out something else that they are particularly good with. If they give you a hard time, you can say, “ I was hoping we could resolve this ourselves, but now I’ll need to take it to ______________( your supervisor). This way you’ve shown them that you’re willing to work with them but not at the expense of your time, talent, energy and reputation. You also won’t look like a doormat in front of them.

Workplace relationships are different than friends. While we can become friends with some of our co-workers over time, we haven’t chosen to work with them and we don’t know their patterns of behavior nor do they know ours until we work together for some time. Trust is the glue that holds any relationship together.

Author's Bio: 

Linda McCarrin, owner of The Ripple Effect Personal & Professional Development is a Chicago born native who has had interesting and varied careers. Her careers have led her to being a Stay-At- Home Mom, a teacher of gifted and “at risk” middle-grade children, a realtor and broker, a director of marketing for healthcare, and a counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment center.

Despite what she learned in each career, it wasn’t until she experienced her own life challenges or “personal tsunami’s” of a brain tumor and breast cancer that led her to embark on the path of Certified Life Coach and Holistic Counselor.

Today she helps others discover how their past programming and conditioning either serves or sabotages them and how it shows up in their relationships, jobs, and other life choices.

You can find several articles Linda has written on, Self and other social networks.

Note: Definition of a Holistic Life Coach and counselor

Holistic life coaches enhance personal development from a multi-directional approach – viewing the person as a complete being – rather than an individual who may have an unresolved challenge. When a coach views all possible contributions to the current situation, a better and more comprehensive resolution is created.