Tuesday, February 7, 2012

There's Nowhere to Run...in an Office

The office friendship always carries with it an interesting dynamic: you and your coworker share a common goal, but that may be it. For some of you, forging friendships at work may not be difficult, in fact it may be necessary for you to get by because you don't function well by yourself. For some others, you may choose to just keep to yourself and work only on the task at hand, ignoring any advances by people looking to buddy up and small-talk. We all probably know examples of both of these types. While I think the first one can operate better in a working environment, sometimes coming on too strong can be off-putting. All that said, there is one thing that needs to be remembered, which I will address later.

One of my jobs requires me to work very closely with another person, in terms of physical space and overlapping tasks. We can't really work independently of one another because our overall goal is the same and the steps one takes directly effect the other. Often, the steps are exactly the same, so there can be no disconnect between the two of us. Right now, I know it sounds like I'm building up to a huge "but," but I'm really not. Do we work well together? It seems our supervisor considers us to be the strongest pair out of the 7 pairs of her employees that work together. However, if you knew us, you might be shocked to hear that.

We have very little in common. Her piety stands in stark contrast to my non-theism. She's very mild-mannered while I can be blunt and abrasive. We have very few similar hobbies, differing tastes in movies and music, and we are of different race. I know all of that doesn't matter, and that's the point that I am making. What makes us function so well together is we both understand what is required of us to perform our job: we need to cooperate. 

There have been countless times where one of us has gotten on the nerves of the other because of simple personality differences, but instead of letting those accumulate, we let the other know. She got me to stop cursing the first day we worked together, and very rarely have I let any profanities slip since then. I let her know when she bothers me and she does what she can to adjust that. It's all done because we understand that it is necessary. 

I know that for a lot of you, you're probably thinking about that one person that you cannot stand. You look at them and nearly gag at the thought of making friends, but that's not the goal. All you need to do is agree that by working together you will accomplish more than when working alone. And every time that person from now on bothers you just remember that you're not trying to make friends with them, and that attempting to understand them is worthless. Just ignore their misstep and chug along. But if you're in a situation similar to the picture posted above, you may want to start drafting up a resume.

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