One boss picks on you, another makes passes at you. A co-worker wants your shoulder to sob on, another is gunning to wreck your career.
As you climb the ladder, you find you’re out-gendered, out-shouted at meetings. You head home with guilt: when did I last speak to my guy? And, the real stranger is in the mirror — that is, when you have time to look closely. Ah, life is a corporate mess.
The eWIT (Empowering Women in IT) workshop, “Relationships at the workplace”, was a reminder to the frightfully testing times we’re caught in. How do we develop sustainable relationships in, around, and off the office cubicle?
In the interactive session led by psychiatrist Vijay Nagaswami, women in corporate jobs spotted solutions: step back and throw light on your “working” models.
Anjali Rege, Director, RightStep, rolled out a tough but necessary to-do list. “Any relationship needs trust, understanding, patience and tact. It’s about need-to-know principles — staying away from places you’re not needed in; promoting transparency / honesty as common office culture; developing an environment that guarantees a positive outlook."
Clarity of thought
Added Usha Srinivasan, HR Consultant: “Are you at office for a work, job or career? Confuse these, and you’ll fail to sustain relationships, and eventually, the job.”
In practice, it translates to post-it notes — Get off the victim platform; Learn to say ‘No’ politely, but firmly to suspiciously extra late-night work, to extra attention.
Feel marginalised by male bonding? Don’t. Get a couple of them to a house party. Don’t be angry with people, only with specifics. Be assertive. Try not to bring gender into every equation. Don’t make men the benchmark to aspire for.
There’s that nosy gossip again? Say you’d rather not answer personal questions. Issue with a co-worker? Deal with it directly. Or, send an SMS at once. Stand up without being nasty.
Look for a well-defined professional relationship with the boss. Get feedback from colleagues about the boss. Draw boundaries to avoid sexual harassment. Look beyond co-workers to find friends. Pamper yourself, splurge, go for a feel-good make-over, or a movie-out with pals.
You know what? Sensible relationships in the workplace also depend on strong relationships at home. Domineering parents, quarrelling siblings and an on-off marriage are a few reasons why the workplace rope gets too tight to walk on.
Sadly, over 70 per cent of your time and energy is spent on work (“Honey, go ahead and have dinner while I make a few calls.”); and the rest is scattered among friends / kids / relatives…
Yeah, work’s where you get recognition; but it can be a demanding lover. To stay ahead of the race, you turn manipulative, and then the inevitable happens — home and office behaviour become indistinguishable.
So, invest in a stable relationship with your partner before diving head-first into the corporate pool.
Stay connected with your partner through the day; it helps you recharge. If you’re discussing office problems at home, do it as a ‘What if?’ discussion. Don’t expect pat solutions. Oh, oh, and partner in the same office? Professional jealousy? Stand back and analyse objectively. Be honest with yourself, and your role at home. After all, is marriage only about commitment, trust, responsibility? Not love?