We are so much more than the work we do.
We’re friends, sons and daughters, parents, siblings, runners, walkers, fans and a million other things. We’re individuals worthy of a thousand stories, and I believe we all want the opportunity to work with people who see us that way.
Too often, however, we under think our work relationships.
It’s far too easy to muddle the message that we are proud to display on our walls and public profiles with actions that make the people we work with feel like insignificant parts of our lives.
Sometimes, it’s as if we view getting to know the humans we spend 5 days a week with (or more) represents a never ending threat. Every birthday, every holiday, every career milestone then is not a time to be celebrated, but a time to be avoided or endured.
“What if I got to know Bob or Betty? What if I found out that we had something in common? What if that turns into conversation that I’m not prepared for??? Oh God, what if we become FRIENDS???!!!”
Or, “What if I found out that there are things about Bob or Betty that I don’t like? What if they don’t like me? How do I keep working like that???”
Well here’s the answer. You just do!
Relationships are messy. Sometimes they can be easy and difficult in the same week, but relationships matter. All of them!
Am I saying that you have to become best friends with everyone you work with? Am I saying that you have to hang out after work every single week, or invite them to your kid’s birthday parties? No!
I’m saying that there is a level, some undefined and highly individualized level of minimal investment that we need to make in others because it demonstrates that we value them as something more than a person that helps power the machinery of our organizations.
Doing so is not only good for us, it’s good for our teams. People that know people’s backgrounds tend to trust each other more, and thus operate at a much higher level than those that do not.
Yes, it will take time and it will take work. It will mean working through the ambiguities of understanding the perspectives of others. It will mean listening more than talking, and it will mean that every once in a while, you will have to step up to be there for someone.
Rest assured, it will be worth it.
Image Credit: “Hands4 Overlaying”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons