Repairing Relationships at Work

I was listening to a talk on marriage. It provided great insights about relationships in the workplace.

The speaker described the positive feelings that two people tend to have when they first marry. Then he described emergent patterns of resentment, disengagement and isolation. He described people living together in cold civility while emotionally alienated. He then spoke of divorce. He indicated that most of the failed marriages could have been saved if the people knew how to relate to each other more effectively.

Relationships in organizations are like those marriages. People, who have offended each other, live together in the same building in cold civility. Because of this, there are no synergies, there is no spontaneous teamwork, there is just a building containing emotionally isolated people operating in begrudging relationships. It is not only the organization that is dying — the people are dying.

This last sentence is a key. If I let myself live in relationships of cold civility, I am letting the organization flounder and also choosing to psychologically die. It is a steep price. The alternative is to do the work of relational repair. We fear such work in marriage and in the office, so we pay the price.

 

Reflection

  • Do you have any work relationships of cold civility?
  • Are they killing the possibility of spontaneous teamwork and are you psychologically dying?
  • How does one begin to repair a relationship in marriage and at work?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?
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