Interpersonal Edge: Workplace friendships are different from those in private life
Sunday, May 1, 2016
By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I'm a very loyal person, and I have a hard time with the rapid coming and going of people in the workplace. I enjoy long-term relationships, and it just seems like I get whiplash watching the turn over at work. How do you recommend your clients handle their personal attachments to people at work?
  A. Obviously, our workplaces are where most of us make significant friendships. The key to managing personal attachments to these people is to understand the difference between friendship and workplace friendship.
  If I have a friend in my personal life, there is an emotional contract that our relationship is not limited by time. Both people have to make an effort to connect. The relationship is based on personal history, and enjoying the "being" of the other person.
  In a workplace, the contract is that we have to see each other Monday through Friday. No one has to make any additional effort to see the other. The relationship is based on the current jobs we hold, and we enjoy the "doing" of the other person.
  Our interpersonal attachments to people at work make work fun and lighten our stress. Unfortunately, loyal people that have deep attachments can expect too much out of these time-limited connections. Often when the job ends so does that friendship we thought was personal.
  All change brings up grief, and changes in the people we work with is no different. You will grieve when someone you've enjoyed leaves and never looks back to reconnect. If you react by not allowing yourself to enjoy people around you, you will impoverish your quality of life.
  The tricky balance between liking people you work with and really loving people you work with is not easy. To avoid constantly feeling sad about who has left you lately, follow these guidelines:
  -Don't over function in the relationship. Only do for your coworker what you won't resent when they leave you and the job.
  -Don't over share about your personal experiences. Don't confuse a coworker's listening to you with understanding you or being committed to being your friend.
  The last word(s)
  Q. Is there any tool kit that would let me avoid conflict in my workplace?
  A. No, effectiveness requires the tools to manage conflict not avoid conflict.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the May 1, 2016 - May 14, 2016 edition.

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