Managing personal relationships at work
June 13, 2008
I’ll be appearing on the Ryan Tubridy show on RTE Radio 1 next Monday morning talking to Ryan about relationships at work – personal and social ones; how we manage them and don’t; the ‘rules’ and boundaries etc. I’ll post some of my thoughts here and a link to the podcast next week. In the meantime if anyone has any comments or thoughts on the subject I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Update: The podcast is here (date 16th June) and I appear at around 44 mins in (you’ll need Real Player to listen). Ryan and I talked about negotiating boundaries (formally and informally) and the importance of establishing how much information we’re willing to reveal about ourselves and more importantly (some times) how much we’re willing to hear. I told a story about one work situation where I was unwittingly involved in a boss’s affair by having to tell his wife when she called that he was ‘at lunch’ – very often it’s this type of situation that contributes to difficult personal relationships at work.
We also talked about the importance of personal relationships particularly when work is stressful or dangerous and as a way of decompressing from work place anxiety. If my life is in your hands the chances are we are going to be very close and intimate at work. The reality is though that many of those kinds of intense relationships don’t transition long term. But work relationships are about work most of the time and the work context will take precedence over personal – chances are if we’re friends we may be competing for the same job one of these days and our friendship may take a battering if we’re both after the same position.
Work is a social situation and it wouldn’t work without personal relationships but I’m becoming increasingly interested in the splitting that goes on where we have highly formalised ‘rules’ for good behaviour in the work place contrasted with an ‘anything goes’ attitude outside of work particularly on social networking sites – as though it’s possible to keep both separate. Ultimately I wouldn’t want to do anything on Facebook that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing in front of friends and family. But it’s interesting to me that we can even imagine that we can be ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ and separate and contained in those ways.
We just touched on these and other issues – it would be great to continue that conversation in some way – the feedback and emails I’ve received since the show have been fascinating .. it seems to be an issue many are interested in.