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Things I Wish I Knew About Workplace Relationships

A guide on how to navigate workplace relationships without being hurt or ending unprofessional

Relationships in the workplace are not without their bittersweet experiences. My story started sweet and ended bitter; you guessed right. In retrospect, I consider myself not the one at fault, just an ignorant newbie. It was my first time in an office space. Most of my work experiences before then were remote. Being sanguine, I was more than excited to be in a physical space, not minding the hassles of getting to work early. I needed the adventure. I made friends with a colleague fast enough. It was only natural because she was hard-working and a goal-getter, just like me.

Trust me to go all in. I believe lifelong relationships could be formed anywhere. We would share story ideas with each other and critique each other’s works. It was a symbiotic relationship, or so I thought. I didn’t think it was going to become competitive at any point, but it did. 

It came knocking like an August visitor, with doom echoing at his footfall. We needed a new editor at work. We had a lot of ideas flying around, so we thought that with one of us as the editor, we could push more ideas forward. So we encouraged each other to apply for the position. I thought it felt wonderful to look out for each other. I wanted the position, but not as much as I wanted to have my ideas published. As you rightly guessed, I didn’t get it. She did, and she kept shutting my ideas down. She claimed she had to consider other people’s ideas too and remain objective. The first and only time I was intrepid enough to leverage our friendship, she told me off.

Here are key lessons I wish I had known earlier about workplace relationships.

Duty to Professionalism

Maintaining professional boundaries is essential to ensuring that personal relationships do not interfere with work responsibilities. The utmost priority remains the office’s daily tasks. Friendships and romantic relationships at work can be positive, but they need clear boundaries to prevent conflicts of interest, favouritism, and gossip. While a comment could have been harmless in an informal space, it could take a different turn at work. Establishing these boundaries from the outset can help maintain professionalism and productivity.

Adult not Babies—Communication is Key

Effective communication is the cornerstone of all relationships, especially in the workplace. Clear, respectful, and open communication helps prevent misunderstandings, resolves conflicts, and fosters a collaborative environment. Regular check-ins and honest feedback can strengthen professional relationships and enhance team cohesion.

Recognise and Appreciate Your Colleagues

Blinded by our own individual tasks and deadlines, we fail to acknowledge that the rest of the coworkers also deal with the same situation. Recognition and appreciation go a long way in building positive workplace relationships. It’s easy to be emotional, but acknowledging the efforts and achievements of your colleagues will help create and sustain a supportive and motivating work environment. Simple acts like thanking someone for their help or publicly recognising a job well done can boost morale and strengthen relationships. Even when things are not as good, there should be acknowledged effort embedded somewhere within constructive criticism.

Sometimes it doesn’t have to be friendship.

Building a strong professional network is crucial for career growth. You might never build a long-lasting, deep-meaning friendship in the workplace. Know the kind of relationship you’re building and get the most out of it. Networking should not be viewed as mere socialising but as a strategic activity to build mutually beneficial relationships. Stay up to date on the newest in the world of Fashion, Arts, Beauty and Lifestyle; Follow FAB on Instagram.

Diverse Perspectives are Valuable

Don’t be a ‘know-it-all’ who doesn’t know it all. Workplaces are diverse environments with individuals from various backgrounds and perspectives. Embracing this diversity can lead to richer ideas, better decision-making, and a more inclusive culture. It’s important to be open to different viewpoints and to engage in active listening to understand where others are coming from.

Final Thoughts

The workplace can either be a free or delicate space, requiring a blend of professionalism, empathy, and strategic thinking. The workplace is a formal replication of society. Formality doesn’t change the nature of humans. Interactions between colleagues are inevitable. Reflecting on my own experience, etiquette and caution should never be thrown out. While maintaining a cordial relationship with co-workers, there should be checks and balances.

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