Recently I have read lot’s of articles on the corporate working environment. They advice on what do to climb the ladders, how to become the star employee, the ugly truth of human resource policies, etc. The thing I found dispiriting is almost advised to not to treat the co-workers as friends. They always suggest to keep a professional relationship with colleagues and hide anything personal, including any own problems. The logic they pose is simple and seems convincing at first. Your co-workers are your competitors for the next promotion and pay-rise. If you grow a personal relationship with them and share too much information, they can abuse the knowledge and back-stab you. No matter how close someone is, wait until the next promotion, and you will see they are not a friend.
I find this as a dangerous idea, and it promotes a trust-less environment. It asks you to forget the fact that your co-worker is another human just like you. Remember how dehumanizing it is to call an employee a resource? Promoting non-caring heartless relationship similarly dehumanize people.
Let’s face it, most of us spend at least 40 hours with colleagues every week which is 24% of total hours in a week and a whopping 35% if the time you are awake (assuming you sleep 8 hours a day). Is this healthy to spend so much time in an environment where everyone is worried about back-stabbing? Can you guarantee this habit won’t trickle down in your personal life too?
Now, why should you care about your co-workers? The simple answer is because they are humans and the only way to make the world a better place is caring and empathy. Your work life will be enjoyable when you have great people around you who care for each other and when you know they will defend you when you mess up. Show empathy to the co-worker who is having a bad week due to some personal issue and help them share the workload, most of the time they will return the favor when you have a bad day. Don’t be afraid to share your weakness, your fear with them, be open and help each other to grow as a better person.
I can assure you will be less stressed when you learn to treat the co-workers as friends, as human and stop worrying about back-stabbing. Are their downsides? Of course, there is, there will always be some person who is so-called “professional” and will take advantage of you. Probably you will get sabotaged a few times. But you will still hold up the moral high ground, and in your heart, you will know you did the right thing. So you want to get stressed and have a cold relationship with the people you spend so much time with? Or you want to be open and friendly but take the risk of potential back-stabbing? The choice is yours.
I had made some fantastic friends in my short professional career so far, and they helped a lot in difficult times. I can’t say how much grateful I am to them. Maybe some of them will someday something to hurt my career, but I would rather get hurt by trusting them rather than work in a stressful environment where everyone is ‘just a co-worker’.
It’s time we stop wearing the mask and promote empathy.