Professional and personal relationships in worklife

At school or university your peers surrounded you. You are likely to have found some kindred souls to share similar issues and your growing pains.

At the workplace you may be the only new starter and you may find it difficult to establish rapport with others. There’s no easy solution to this. Unless you establish some sort of personal connection at work, you will be unhappy.

Everyone should be professional at work. That way the work gets done effectively.

A common misunderstanding among new starters at work is their attitude to co-workers.

The natural inclination is to want your co-worker to be a friend, maybe a best friend. This is a carry over from school. But work is different. Your co-worker does not have to be your best friend, in fact it’s probably better if he/she is not.

The trick with work is to find a happy balance in the relationship, without the entanglements of close friendships. Remember that one day you may have to instruct or discipline your co-worker. That is harder to do if friendship gets in the way.

Two possible workplace relationship scenarios you should be aware of:

New Starter 1

Co-workers are helpful towards the new starter. They are patient, and supportive. You respond to this support by helping out in other ways that your co-workers appreciate. You are happy and look forward to work each day.

New Starter 2

Co-workers are resentful of you and your new job. You receive little support from them. You are unsure of your allocated tasks. You are reluctant to ask for assistance and unsure where support resources are.

Scenario 2 is not uncommon, don't panic, there are helpful strategies discussed later.