Relationships at work: Do they really work?
'At the end of the day, we are all selfish. We want to serve our interests. All these so-called relationships...
"At the end of the day, we are all selfish. We want to serve our interests. All these so-called relationships at workplace are mere lies" This is how one of the senior participants in a recently conducted workshop commented. It was indeed a strong statement which made me think deeper. A Is it true that we are all selfish? Does it mean to say that we 'use' others to serve our own interests? Isn't there any bonding beyond serving own purpose? Then what is the relevance of all these relationships at workplace? How do workplaces look like when we just perform what is assigned to us and in return get what we need? Here are my thoughts on selfishness, relationships and engagement at workplace. Selfishness In materialistic terms, everyone is selfish and wants to serve own interests. It is also true that in the process of pursuing our own goals, we do need several others contribution. Think of your normal day and list down how many people have played a role in keeping your day moving! As Stephen Covey stated in his book of Seven Habits, it is important to realise the importance of interdependency in human relationships � in life and at work. Just as I need others to achieve my goals, I should also make myself available to others so that they too can achieve their goals. When viewed from this perspective, selfishness is more of "proper selfishness" (borrowed phrase from Charles Handy!). Relationships With the concept of proper-selfishness, it is clear that relationships are critical even for personal progress and one cannot operate as an island. Therefore, one needs to invest time and effort to build and maintain relationships. If selfishness over plays on the mind, we may tend to 'use' people as per our convenience and will not respect relationships when we do not have a 'need'. The biggest mistake that one can make is to tap a relationship only when there is a dire need. Others can clearly see-through you and will distance from you. Therefore, it is important to have cordial relationships just for the sake of relationships, even when there is no specific need. More importantly, make yourself available for any support that others need from you. In this process, ask yourself the following questions: Do you keep for yourself at work and assume it to be a focused approach? (if so, it is wrong; building informal relationships at work will boost your productivity and team work) Do you hang around only with a few select set of friends who are like you? (Good for your comfort, but will limit your network) Do you have strong negative views towards someone at work? (It can happen, but it is important to discuss and deal with it instead of avoiding the person; after all, you may have to work together on an assignment). Do you feel that there is no time for you to network and widen your relationships? (It is possible that your work may be taking away all your time; but realize that lunch times, coffee breaks do offer many possibilities; it is as simple as joining a different table at lunch time!) How relationships influence your engagement? Work can be first factor to influence engagement. When we are engrossed in some interesting work, we do not realize time or tiredness. However, there will be times when we may experience boredom or some upheaval at work. In such situations, we feel like venting out our emotions, seeking guidance or asking for help. We need people who we can relate to. Otherwise, we instantly get disengaged and there won't be any emotional anchor. It is therefore, important to understand that relationships are not mere soft goals; they are important for business performance; your networking abilities and relationship skills are being watched by your bosses to assess your team work and collaboration. Assuming that workplaces need to be 'business-like' and ignoring relationships will surely hamper your career growth. Remember, as you grow in career, it is your relationship and other people skills that are considered more important than mere domain specific skills!