Relationships are complicated. They are exhilarating. They can be everything that you live for. Or they can be so awful and you want to leave them far behind. You spend so much time together, building a future, and working towards common goals. Some relationships last a lifetime and some only last 6 months.
But let me clarify: we aren’t referring to your personal relationships; we are referring to your job relationships.
No matter how you feel about your job, it is the other ‘woman’ or ‘man’ in your life. Think of all the time you spend at work with your colleagues. You spend roughly 1/3 of your week at work. Once you take out the hours you spend sleeping, you spend more time in the work place than out of it. This is the nature of a Monday to Friday job.
Where we need to make a change is how we view our work – as a very important relationship, and not just a job.
The codependent relationship
Neither you nor your office can function without each other. On vacation you find yourself constantly checking email to make sure you haven’t missed anything. On the other side, no one in the office can go 3 days without calling you for help on the simplest task. You find that other areas of your life suffer. You will do things for your work that you wouldn’t normally do for anyone else – cancel trips last minute, miss dinner dates to work late, or give up a personal relationship completely to spend more time with work.
Prize possession relationship
At some point you may find yourself with a coveted ‘golden salary’ type job. This is one of those jobs you know you don’t want long term, but the thought of turning down the salary is inconceivable. You tend to enjoy the ride while it lasts, at least until the cons start outweighing the pros. The key here is to be able to notice when this happens and change careers. It only becomes a problem when you become dependent on that golden ticket and can’t give up your role, no matter how much you start disliking it.
You lost a job you loved. They lost an employee they loved. It has been really hard for both of you. During this time you are interviewed. For both of you, it is new job love at first sight. Or at least it is temporary job love to make up for how hurt you felt from your last job “break-up”. This will be the job you can love deeply and briefly. Once you are ready to move on, it will be an amicable parting on both sides. This was a fragile work relationship but it worked for both of you at the time.
By far this is the most exhausting of any work relationship. You constantly feel emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. Every decision made on a corporate level ends up creating even more work for you and causing you great frustration and stress. You can start to feel bullied and undermined when you voice your dissatisfaction. It starts to bring out the worst in you. After work you can do nothing but talk about how bad it is. Everyone tells you to leave, but you “just can’t”. You are emotionally entangled in the toxicity of the work place. Everyone there feels the same as you. You all complain together. You are all in this together. The work highs have never been higher, but the lows are always lower than the one before.
‘In love with love’ relationship
You are so ready to love this job that you make changes for it. You change how you dress to fit in with the team. Change how you talk to match the lingo they use. You even change how you socialise so you can keep on hanging out with your work colleagues outside of work hours. But at some stage it starts getting exhausting. You realise you are actually in love with your colleagues, and not your job. Because you have worked so hard at loving it though, it makes it twice as hard to walk away.
These can be some of the best work relationships. Think about the ski hill job you had, or that summer working as a lifeguard down by the beach. Often these jobs, with the salaries that go along with them, are unsustainable long term. But you get to live somewhere different, working with amazingly like-minded people, and have a really good time. Your work is fully aware that this is a ‘fling’ and it’s okay with it. In fact these are often the jobs that help balance out your perspective when it comes to other work relationships; you will always look back on them with fondness.
Good on paper relationship
You get this job because you should. If you’re an accountant it would be like turning down a converted position at one of the Big 5 International Accounting Firms. To turn it down would be idiocy. Everyone you talk to thinks this job is the best thing for you, and on paper it is. But the ‘wow factor’ is missing. This is one of those work relationships you might just stay in for a couple of years because you know that when you apply for your next role, having that company’s name on your resume will win over any interviewer.
Long distance relationship
These work relationships can either be a blessing or a curse, but you only find out what it is once you are in it. For some people, being away from the daily interaction of the office becomes tiresome and lonely. For others, being on the road and coming back in once a month is refreshing and they love the challenge. If you are able to find the balance that works for you in this work relationship, and it doesn’t affect your personal relationships, you will be happy in this work relationship for years.
The truly compatible relationship
This is the hardest type of work relationship to find. But if you do, it is magical. This relationship will take effort to maintain long term. You have to be willing to ride out the bad times and enjoy the good times. The reason you stay is that you are passionate about what your company does. You keep believing in their product or service, even as the company grows and changes. Your company also appreciates you and shows it. They make sure to support your career goals and work with you through the issues that come up. You both accept each other for who you are. This is the work relationship everyone wishes they had, and are pretty envious you have found it.
By being aware of the work relationship you are in, you have more control over your reactions to it. It gives you the power to make decisions that better your job as well as your personal life. It is a balance we all have to find.