It’s All Life

Shanti Grumbine, Asemic Tablets (detail), 2016, ink solvent transfers on Hydrocal, 3 x 3 feet

If you Google “work relationships,” you will find, among a very long list of articles on the subject, a surprising number of seminars and workshops which, for a cool $200, promise to teach you in one day how to not only maximize your effectiveness in the workplace, but how to get along with almost any personality type found in your office.

I call bullshit, but I’m going to try to do the latter part in one article, for free.

Work relationships consist of those same kind of contrived interpersonals we had in elementary and high school. It’s not to say that the friendships we built in school weren’t real, but it is to say that we were forced to have relationships with a whole lot of people with whom we would not naturally have given the time of day (if we’re being honest). And so it goes at work.

I imagine the reason that there are so many seminars on the subject of workplace relationships, is because it can be really hard, or at the very least feel like a needless bother, to maintain amicable relationships with our coworkers with whom we would not naturally interact for such long periods of time. But we have to be productive together.

Just because we are at work and didn’t choose the people with whom we have to work (there’s a reason we call it a work “family”), doesn’t mean advice about our non-work life doesn’t apply.

Mystic, Yogi, and Huffington Post contributor Sadhguru, says “do not divide your life into ‘work’ and ‘life,’ it is all life.”

And so, it is the same thing I will say about every relationship in life: be kind, patient, and generous. Find the good: everyone has good. If someone is intolerable, take them out for drinks and ask them about their life. Dig enough and you’ll find common ground – we are all human. If not, well, a wise man once told me, “fake it till you make it.” Actually, he told me that many many times. Surprisingly, it works for almost anything.

We spend half our lives at work, so like Sadhguru says, you can’t compartmentalize and treat the relationships at work different than you’d treat the ones outside of work. The relationships where we spend our time affect our lives whether we want those relationships or not. Just because we don’t always have a choice with whom we work, we do have a choice how to move forward with the relationship.

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