Fall is a time of transition and drawing in. The holidays are around the corner and with them extra focus on family & tradition. It’s a wonderful season. But do we allow it to permeate our workspace? I want to shift the focus from family to your coworkers. We spend so much time with these people, sometimes even more time than we have with our actual families & friends. Every thing in life has a cycle for change and maybe you need a refresher for your work relationships.
So, how are your relationships with your coworkers?
I’ve noticed that if you put two young children in a room together, they don’t notice the color of each others skin, they don’t ask what religion they believe in, they don’t care how much money is in their piggy bank. But when we are all grown up we change, and suddenly these things really matter, or seem like they do and we allow them to create division and discord amongst us.
I am amazed at how much I have in common with the people I work with, we have more in common than we do in difference. We all have the same basic needs, food, water, air, shelter, love and respect. But beyond that we share a love of our profession, a deep compassion for people in grief, and a united desire to serve & support our families.
What can you do to build upon the foundation you have laid with your coworkers regardless of how it stands now? Can you build trust and meaning into your interactions?
Here is a simple approach to look at when you are willing to deepen your relationships.
Tell the Truth – Most of the time this isn’t too much of a struggle but I have found that when it comes to telling the truth in conflict or difficult times, many people would rather not talk at all rather than say something “risky”.
Sometimes we stop communicating with each other because we think others should be able to know what we’re thinking – we expect them to “read our minds”. Has that ever worked for you? It hasn’t for me. If we are ever going to build a true relationship we have to be willing to be fearless and bold. If you had something hanging from you nose would you want your friend to tell you or just let it stay there? Of course none of us want say “Hey you got a green monster climbing out of its cave”. I know that is a silly little example of being honest with someone, yet no matter what the subject matter telling the truth to someone will help build trust and deepen your relationship.
Be Transparent – This goes along with building trust but should be more selective. Transparence is about risk and vulnerability, if you fear risk or transparency you will never grow into a long lasting, meaningful relationship. Think about the people in your life who you know you could tell anything to anytime of the day or night, good, bad or indifferent – they will still be there for you no matter what because you have invested in each other. I’ve been blessed to have several people I work with love me enough to let me be transparent. What a difference that has made in our work culture.
Be Inclusive, Not Exclusive – The pack mentality of us vs. them is so strange to me. I wonder why some people prefer to form small clicks to purposely isolate others. When you are not open to meeting new people and developing new perspective’s you miss out on opportunities of new growth and different ideas.
Break Bread – I believe the best way to get to know someone is having a meal with them. When you take time to spend at least one hour out of your day to eat and be open about your life’s journey, you will find how much you have in common with the person across the table from you. I love asking people icebreaker questions like, “Where are you from?” or “Where did you grow up?” That usually seems to be a great starting point to get to know someone.
Go Deeper – We are not meant to stay in the shallow end of the pool, we are designed to go swim in the deep waters of life. If you really want to live a meaningful life you will never find it in social status, or the amount of money you make. You will find the true meaning when you are willing to deepen and strengthen your personal relationships. Ask anyone on their deathbed what they would do differently – if they could go back and redo their life again. The common answer of a dying person is centered around relationships, love, happiness, & friendships. I believe our work place is a great environment to develop our relationships.
How efforts can you make to deepen and strengthen your relationships at work?
Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. Thank you for being a leader that truly leads by example.
You are welcome! You are a great leader too!
I find this post really convicting. My relationship tendencies are to go deep with a few people and keep others at an arm’s distance. I like learning about people but find that I often don’t know what kinds of questions to ask and when the awkward silence begins I just can’t wait to get away.
I want to have more courage with my interactions, courage to not only get to know them but to share myself as well. I think I assume to often that others won’t care about what I think & I close myself off in ways that come across as snobby when really, I just don’t know what to do!
Thank you so much for writing on this topic, for sharing your wisdom & experience, and for caring so much about how we all get along.
H Molly –
I believe that when we are comfortable getting uncomfortable with our selves many doors will open. Try and not care about what YOU think, and you really won’t care what others think. We all over think at times. I know you have a big heart and you care for others, yet our monkey minds can trick us at time. Go with you heart!
I try to be “Nice”. Naughty should have no residence in the workplace, nor in my world, knowingly. Encouragement, support, being willing to stop and help or direct to the right answers. Being willing to be interrupted and listen to a hurting friend. Doing my own job as well as I can, so it doesn’t cause grief to a co-worker. Telling the truth in love and with no intended malice usually works just fine for me.
Thanks for an interesting post.
Hi Anne –
As you know this has been a journey for all of us to remember that life is short, and lets make the most out of our friendships. I have enjoyed our years together, we have had some great times getting to know each other, in the good time and the bad times. I appreciate your support and friendship.
And I appreciate yours. Thank you for 17 mostly wonderful years.
Hi Anne –
17 years WOW! It has been truly a blessing and a pleasure to be your friend! XOXO