In the work environment we live in, we do spend more than half of our waking hours at the workplace. In reality, most of us interact much more with our colleagues than with our families! It is said that you become like the five people you spend most of your time with. To this, we would add that your happiness too, depends on how well you manage your relationships with these people.
At the workplace, our peers can be our biggest support or sometimes be a cause of discomfort, depending on the quality of interactions we have with them. How? Consider this.
- Peers bond more: Peers tend to be in a similar boat as ours. Often, they come from a similar background and even the same degree of experience, with the same specialist knowledge that we do. This leads to a natural connection and more sharing.
- Peers understand better: Since they are also working with similar work variants, there is a natural understanding of each others’ challenges and issues. Both professionally and personally.
- Peers recognise readily: These friends at work celebrate our accomplishments (through inviting themselves to a dinner treat). Cool motivators they are!
- Peers support strongly: Considering that they belong to the same life-phase you are in currently, they become privy to our family concerns and offer a good support system in times of crisis.
However, being at the same level, this may easily lead to some discomfort like fighting over the same resources and /or time / attention with your boss. And let’s not forget that tricky situation where only one of us gets promoted. This may lead to situations where we tend to feel less confident in front of certain aggressive peers.
What can we do about it?
- Have the difficult talks: Most of us tend to shy away from difficult conversations, whether at the workplace or at home. But staying silent never makes things pass. Instead, if you discuss things openly with peers and colleagues, it will lead to an instant dissipation of negativity and earn you some respect for your courage.
- Give before you ask: Try to find out what is important to your peers and if you can offer them support. This will, in turn, lead to reciprocities and establish a healthy relationship.
- Do not put them in a spot: If there is a certain bone of contention, make sure you engage with your colleague before bringing it up in a staff meeting or to his/her boss. This is a sure way to establish trust with them. But remember to walk the talk.
- Remember, there is no pie: If a peer comes up with a better solution for a problem, it doesn’t imply that your opinions didn’t count. At other times, your ideas may fly but valuable contributions from peers to make a project happen must be recognised and appreciated by you.
One must aim to leverage working relationships with our peers to create a better workplace environment, where we can collaborate and succeed together. Our disagreements need not disappear. But through courageous conversations, openness to other’s opinions and reciprocation, we can actually create a comfortable, mutually-beneficial relationship at the workplace leading to organisational success.
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