Why We Form Work Relationships

I’m a big believer in keeping your home and worklife seperate.  I mean like Great Wall of China seperate.  That’s why my cubicle is empty.  However, after more than 10 years as a member of the workforce, I am convinced that no matter what you do, or how hard you try, the two worlds will inevitably seep together.

And that’s OK.

Perhaps you met your best friend or significant other under the flourescent lights of work.  Since we spend so much time together, it makes sense, right?  There are a few core reasons why we form relationships with our coworkers.  Here are the five most common…

THE JADED.  You “bond” by verbally abusing the boss and/or poking fun at your fellow coworkers.  Or perhaps you both feel like you are wasting your lives away with a dead-end company.  Either way, this relationship is built on negativity.  Psychologists might tell you that this relationship does not have a fighting chance to survive once the “common evil” is removed – but I have seen it happen.  I’ve had it happen.

Whether you sit next to someone who hears you mumble under your breath or you physically live in the same town as a coworker, our proximity to other people spawns relationships.  I’ll never forget explaining to a cube mate many years ago that my wife requires several “I love yous” at the end of EVERY phone conversation.  Actaully, I should’t say “requires.”  I ENJOY saying it.  ;-)

THE SIMILARITIES. It could be religion, music, style of dress or anything else that two people can share in common.  We seek out people who are cool, and we often think they are cool because they are like us.

THE CIRCUMSTANCE.  A bad situation at work can bring people together, sometimes forming couples that you would never expect.  Perhaps you were both reprimanded by HR or survived a nerve-racking round of layoffs; whatever didn’t kill you made you stronger and brought you together.  

THE OUTSIDERS.  This is when you seek out a pal in a department other than yours.  You keep one another in tune to the latest company happenings and hope to lean on each other should the need arise – or a job opens up.  You might have played together on the company softball team or shared some laughs at a work conference; it’s the distance that keeps you together.

Work friends are not a reason to stay at a job, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep them around after we leave!  Are there any reasons you would like to add?

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