By Ryan Valez
A good job can be hell if you don’t have coworkers who are a good match for you. A good co-worker itself is also a combination of a skilled worker who can communicate well, and often has a personality that gels with yours. This may turn into a friendship, but once you put friendship into the work world, things have the potential to get messy. A recent Black Enterprise article covers some of the ways that a working relationship can go wrong. Author Sonia Alleyne knows this because it’s happened to her.
“I recently had a conversation with a young woman whom I mentor who was very disappointed in a colleague’s behavior. The two, in my mentee’s words, “enjoy a good relationship and are friendly toward one another.” The two were also recently working jointly on a project. My mentee was coordinating with an outside vendor and the colleague was managing the project with a senior level executive internally. When it came time to execute the project, the colleague called the outside vendor (my mentee’s contact) secured the deal and then promptly wrapped up the assignment with the senior level executive.
My mentee was angry for a number of reasons: At her company, there are no off hours. Everyone has a BlackBerry and so even if you don’t want to disturb someone with a phone call, texting and e-mail are always appropriate for matters concerning urgent business or communication etiquette. The other breach was in their perceived friendship.”
At the end of the day, Alleyne explains, the goal for most individuals at work is advancement, and while forging relationships at work is essential, this isn’t a social goal. Certainly, you may find yourself getting along with coworkers, but many people forge relationships to accomplish their business goals. This isn’t necessarily cold or manipulative, but simply the truth. Note that there are ways to go about this with integrity, like trying to clearly lay out goals and plans in writing or keeping from getting emotional. However, this won’t always work. When people show that they are willing to be unscrupulous to meet their goals, don’t feel betrayed, simply take advantage of this learning opportunity and handle your future communications accordingly. There is a fine line between being cordial and truly getting involved, but when you are able to walk it properly, you will be able to reap the rewards of good work relationships without letting them become shackles.