One of the most difficult things I deal with while working is not the customers, or screaming children. It’s not the nasty phone calls, or the silly questions like: Where’s the restroom? or Do you work here? No, the thing that I find most difficult is managing my friendships with my coworkers.
Having people at work that you trust and believe in can be very difficult sometimes. Let’s face it, no matter how much you want to, you can’t get along with everyone. It’s just one of those things that you can’t avoid. Then there are the few that you feel really comfortable with, and it feels very natural to get on a more personal level with them. But you need to be careful with what you share, because you never know who is listening and what they might do with that information. It’s sad that you need to be that way, but you need to maintain a certain distance in order to do what you need to do at work.
Right now, I don’t feel like I have a lot in common with most of the people who I work with. Most have grown or no children, and don’t understand why I can’t hang around and chat once my day is over. I have to pick children up from after-care, run home, make supper, make time to spend with my hubby, and all the other daily things I do to manage my home. The few that do have the younger kids are in a position in which they can schedule more flexibly(read: they are managers)in order to take care of their kids. As much as I enjoy my job, I’d rather be with my family.
So what can you do to make your work day a positive experience each and every day? It’s not easy to do, but if you make the effort, you will be able to manage, and grow, your relationships with your fellow workers. The tips I am sharing are all learned through hard, sometimes painful, work, and plenty of failed attempts as well.
- Less is definitely more. Choose very carefully what you share with your coworkers. They can be great ears when you need someone to bounce ideas off of, but letting go of problems at home can be difficult if you are talking about them at work. They don’t need to hear all the details, either. Be general about things, if you need to talk.
- Leave home at home. It’s natural to become involved in the problems that other people are having because they are a great distraction from the stuff that may be going on at home. And, naturally, you think it’s only fair that you talk to your coworkers about your life outside of work. But your coworkers probably don’t want to hear all about your problems at home……..again. If they ask, share what you are comfortable sharing. Otherwise, it’s best to just keep quiet.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can strengthen a work relationship like asking questions when you need help. People will respect you for asking if you don’t know, and you will save time and energy by asking how to do something first. Having to re-do someone else’s work because they didn’t take the time to clarify is a sure way to earn anger and distrust from the people you work with.
- Stay positive. Work may be stressful, but standing around complaining about it really isn’t going to change things. So make the choice to be a positive influence at work. It can be contagious, and your positive attitude may just be the initiative someone else needs to pluck up and work together. Plus, you could very well end up having fun!
Having good working relationships with your peers is an important part of your job description. In fact, a lot of performance reviews have sections that address your relationship with your coworkers. By listening more than speaking, by being prudent with sharing your personal life, and by always willing to do more for someone than they do for you, you can have strong and rewarding relationships with the people who are your second family.