It’s hard enough to spend eight or more hours a day with the same people week-in and week-out. Yet, it can really put a damper on productivity and workplace satisfaction when there are negative relationships going on around you. It would be nice if everyone just got along, but odds are it’s not going to happen -- for a wide range of reasons.
When workers enjoy their jobs and are happy to come to work, they usually are easier to get along with. It’s those employees who are unhappy with their lot who create the friction and tension that leads to negativity and difficult relationships. According to the "Gallup Business Journal," only 29 percent of American workers are engaged at work and feel good about their positions and the work they do. The rest are either just going through the motions or overtly miserable – and letting you know it.
Even if your employer encourages workplace friendships, they don’t always happen. Instead, jealousy and outright hostility often replace the closeness that some employees develop with their co-workers. The negative relationships can be caused by any number of factors, ranging from distinct personality differences to preconceived notions and prejudices. When workers aren’t engaged or into their work, they tend to take a dislike to those employees who are happy. Instead of trying to find out what they can do to be happier at work, they pull away and say that they are not at work to make friends, and that being too familiar with fellow workers only leads to problems.
Too many times, bad relationships are formed because of incorrect assumptions. Instead of talking things out to find out why someone is stand-offish, you often may jump to conclusions. “She thinks she’s better than me,” or “She has it in for me,” are common reactions when a coworker isn’t friendly. This can cause you to return the animosity with your own brand of negativity, which leads to mistrust and poor working habits. The cycle continues until it becomes nearly impossible, without intervention of some kind, to form any kind of positive working relationship.
Relationships can turn sour after coworkers become too friendly and end the relationship. Dating coworkers, for example, often break up and carry their animosity and hurt on the job when they continue working after a stormy breakup. Even if the employees didn’t necessarily have a romantic relationship, maybe they were just gossip buddies or going-out-for-a-drink-after-work friends who ended up getting in a fight over political views or perceived slights. Friendships gone bad outside the job leach into the workplace and can be a major cause of negative vibes back at the office.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."